Expect the Unexpected
First off - thank you to everyone who has read/looked/commented/liked the first blog post! You guys are amazing! See below for our next two days...they are vastly different.
We couldn't have asked for a better day. It was 70 degrees and sunny - not a cloud in the sky. There was still some smoke from the wildfires (yes, plural) but that quickly went away the further we got into the park. This was a perfect day for some thermal adventures! We hit two different places that had geysers, pools, and steam vents - oh my! On the way to the first stop, we got to see some elk out in the wild which was really cool to see. A young male buck and female just eating grass out in the valley.
Fun Fact: Yellowstone is one of five true geothermal ecosystems in the world: Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Haukadalur in Iceland, North Island in New Zealand, Kamchatka in Russia, and Joshinetsu in Japan. By the end of the year, we will have been to 2 of them - 3 to go!
Midway Geyser Basin was the first thermal spot we visited of the day. They had a little bit of everything to see as well as mud pots - bubbling mud. One of the most beautiful spots we got to go to was within Midway called the Grand Prismatic Springs. This is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone and the third largest in the world (New Zealand holds the first two spots - add it to the list of places to visit). The colors that it produces are amazing as is the steam that comes off of it (see time-lapse video below). The colors are actually caused by microorganisms called thermophiles, which love heat (obviously). Fun Fact: they change colors depending on the temperature of the water which is why we see so many different ones. Also, it was once thought that these hot springs were too hot to even house living organisms - wrong. It was definitely one of the favorite things we have seen so far!
Next, we went to the famous Old Faithful area called the Upper Geyser Basin. Huge tourist spot but who can resist a massive geyser? Now, there is a lot more there than just Old Faithful. We walked a few miles around the area and saw dozens of other geysers (that are still erupting even today), steam vents, and pools. A few of our favorites were Daisy Geyser, Castle Geyser, and Morning Glory Pool. Although obviously smaller than Old Faithful, we got to see Daisy Geyser go off which was very cool to see. Castle Geyser didn't go off while we were there but it looked very cool because it had huge 30 foot cone that has built up where the geyser goes off. The cone is estimated to be 5,000 years old where the actual geyser itself is estimated at 200,000 years old. Wow. Our other favorite was Morning Glory Pool which you probably saw both Cameron and I post on Instagram (@stripedmoonstudios and @_kyleewillliams). It was gorgeous with all of the colors but we learned that it is more colorful than what it used to be because over the decades, people have thrown everything from rocks to pennies to trash into the pool and clogged it up which has lowered the temperature of the water causing microorganisms to grow (see above for microorganism fun fact). Once a year, the park has to clean it out. Moral of the story - don't throw things in the pools. Not cool.
Old Faithful is not quite faithful. Overall, it erupts every 90ish minutes so once we saw what time it would go off, give or take an extra 15 minutes. So, as we sit there with everyone else, it teases. People would get excited, and then nothing. Tease, excitement, nothing. This went on a few times then boom. It went off for about a minute in a half. I have to say, I was expecting more of a noise when it was going off but it is still something that is awesome to see. A geyser that shoots water up to 185 feet and sends out 3,700 gallons of water in 1.5 minutes is pretty amazing.
On our way back to the hotel, we got to see another herd of elk in the valley with a very large male...and about 6 female. It was a great way to end the day.
Predicted weather: wintry mix in the morning. The plan: hiking the Falls to see some amazing water falls. Well, we did do this but we did it in a blizzard. Once we got up to the Falls at a higher elevation, it was a white out of snow and you could barley see the waterfalls at all. We tried to hit a few spots to see if the snow would let up but it had not. By the time we left a few hours after we got in, they had already gotten about 3-4 inches of snow. End of day. At this point in time, what do we do? Eat and drink at the local barbecue place. So we sit here relaxing in our hotel room for the rest of the day because it has STILL not stopped snowing and we were not equipped, or wanting, to hiking around in the snow. We will see what tomorrow brings...
On a side note - when we arrived in Yellowstone, the question was brought up if what we were seeing were Buffalo or Bison. None of us knew the actual answer. People were calling them both so we wondered who was right. We have determined, after about an hour of research and historical facts, that what we are seeing in Yellowstone are Bison, NOT Buffalo. If anyone knows anything different - please, let me know...this has been bugging me ever since we got here.
- C & K