A Day on the Road
This morning we slept in and left at 7. We all became a little more human and had coffee before hitting the road. We weren’t five minutes from Roosevelt when we saw a black bear cub climbing down a tree.
At the Narrows, we learned about geology from Melissa and made a timeline of the geologic history of Yellowstone. As we climbed in elevations the temperature dropped — the wind chill was 44 – and we were all scrambling for our fleeces and wool. On the slopes of Mount Washburn we saw evidence of the 1988 fires and the regeneration of the lodgepole pine forest. During Meg’s expert topic we learned that about 1/3 of the park burned in those fires, and Pam talked about the fire dependence of the lodgepole pine community — the serotinous cones require heat in order to open. Studies have shown that large fires like this occur about every 100 years.
The group was amazed at the power and beauty of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We snapped tons of pictures! The varied colors in the canyon — pink, white, yellow, and orange – are caused by hydrothermal alteration of the rock, making it weak and easily eroded.
Our next stop was Mud Volcano, our first taste (and smell) of the hydrothermal features in the southern half of the Park. Dragon’s Mouth Spring is aptly named because from a gaping hole in the rock, you hear a thumping roar and watch clouds of steam billow forth. The gases from deep in the earth heat the water and cause waves to roll out of the spring.
Before pulling into the Lake Hotel, we stopped at LeHardy Rapids, known for its harlequin ducks and leaping cutthroat trout on their spawning run.
The elegance and timelessness of Lake Hotel were enhanced by a power outage caused by 25 mile per hour winds. We dined by candlelight, served by waiters with headlamps. The perfect ending to a day in Yellowstone.