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Fumaroles, Geysers, Hot Springs, and Mud Pots … Oh My!

June 21, 2013

Despite hiking through freezing rain we discovered the scalding hot thermal features of the Upper, Midway, and Lower Geyser Basin. Some of our favorites were Old Faithful, Daisy, and Grand Prismatic. Park Ranger Rita Garcia explained that even though the four different thermal features vary in shape, size, and color, they are all caused by the superheating of water by magma. Using the estimated geyser eruption times we observed two out of three geysers. We saw Old Faithful and Daisy, but Riverside did not follow estimated predictions. At the end of Daisy’s eruption she makes a sound like a steam engine train. While walking through the Upper Geyser Basin we saw two coyotes carefully walking around a thermal feature. We traveled to Black Sand Basin to observe Black Sand Pool. We all lay down on the ground to feel the thumping of the Earth below us as bubbles rose in Black Sand Pool after each thump. The group was treated to a rare sighting of the sagebrush lizard, the ONLY lizard found in Yellowstone. At Midway Geyser Basin we hiked up a hill to get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful and colorful Grand Prismatic. We traveled to the Lower Geyser Basin to observe the “plop, plop” and bubbles of the mud pots. After leaving the thermal basin we started our drive back towards Mammoth.

Along the way we stopped at Gibbon Falls to view the beautiful waterfall. We spotted an American dipper fledging in the Gibbon River near a bridge. We waited for its mother to come feed it, but she was waiting for us to leave. The group made a quick getaway as a herd of Bison came walking down the road. As we passed the Obsidian Cliff, we listened to an expert topic about obsidian. We returned to Mammoth and had our final group meeting on the hillside overlooking the beautiful Gardner Canyon. The group was treated to a rare sighting of five bighorn sheep on the crest of the Gardner cliffs. We all realized how hard it will be to leave this amazing place called Yellowstone, and our newfound friends.

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