Beryl Springs in Norris Geyser Basin
Staying in West Yellowstone yesterday and today. What a hopping little town this is! There are more motels in this town than I have ever seen. Eating establishments abound and so do people this time of year!
Pat did laundry today, Fred went swimming and Debbie and I did the upper loop of Yellowstone. Most of the time we were outside the Yellowstone caldera, exploring the Norris Geyser Basin. There are four basic thermal features in Yellowstone: geysers, mudpots, fumaroles, and hot springs. Geysers like Old Faithful, shoot superheated water out of the geyser hole when the pressure in the channels leading to it builds up and forces the water out of the ground. This is NOT a scientific explanation, but hopefully creates something of a picture of what happens. Fumaroles are steam vents or cracks in the earth’s surface which allow steam to come out. There were a lot of steam vents in the Norris Basin. Smelling of Sulphur, these steamy places added warmth to an already warm day. Our glasses fogged up when the wind blew the steamy mix towards us. The hot springs we saw all contained signs about not walking on the area around the springs because the crust of earth could be thin enough to break through into a boiling hot spring. It is sobering to know that in some places molten rock lies 2.5 miles below the surface of the earth. Beautiful to look at, these springs are variously colored because of the microorganisms living around the pool. Mudpots are places where the sediment is saturated and becomes muddy with a clay like look and texture. This is then affected by the steam below the surface.
One of the most interesting places we visited was Artist’s Paint Pots. We hiked into an area with over 50 mudpots, vents, geysers and hot springs. Each varies in color depending on the surroundings. It was indeed like looking into an artist’s palette and seeing all the colors in pools or surfaces. If this is the palette that God used when He / She created the earth then it explains the great beauty around us!
After a visit to Mammoth Hot Springs (wow!) we had a picnic lunch and started around the eastern side of the loop to head home. We crossed Mount Washburn (at 10,248 feet) and encountered a bit of rain which dropped the temperature from 78 to 51 in a matter of minutes. The views of the rim of the Yellowstone caldera were spectacular.
Caldera Rim from Mt. Washburn
Views from Mt. Washburn
We decided to leave the Canyon Village area of this loop until tomorrow when Fred and Pat will be with us. As we headed out of the Park, I saw my first wildlife. Having only seen a chipmunk, I was feeling something of a letdown. But suddenly there was a huge bison shuffling along the side of the road eating grass as he went. Traffic was stopped and we got a picture. Now, I can check bison off my list of wildlife to see!
Yellowstone Park gives such a view of both the strength, and fragile nature of creation. It seems like “holy ground” where we are never far from the breath of the Creator.