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A Caldera and Crowds!

June 22, 2017

We awoke this morning to our final moments in the Lamar Valley area of Yellowstone. All of us welcomed a slightly later start: 6:30am. Once again we climbed to a high altitude where we saw evidence of the regrowth of the lodgepole pine forest after the tremendous fires of 1988. Young trees are sprouting up amongst the standing dead.

As we continued our journey, we found ourselves nearly on the rim of the caldera at Dunraven Pass, the outer edge of the great volcano that created the valley below over 600,000 years ago. At the trail on Mt. Washburn it was amazing to think back over the millions of years of geologic history beneath our feet!!

We descended into the caldera and once again experienced the incredible diversity of wildlife that Yellowstone has to offer. A few of our highlights were: a momma grizzly and her two cubs, a bald eagle, trumpeter swans, a black-necked stilt, chorus frogs (one of only five amphibians in Yellowstone), cinnamon teal, and cutthroat trout making their journey upstream to spawn.

We were stunned by the change in the human population as well. We entered a world of tour buses and crowds that we had not yet encountered on our journey. At first this was a bit disconcerting, but we embraced the human encounters and met some amazing people. A few of our new friends included Melba the wolf woman, Diane a former NC teacher who traveled to Yellowstone with the Museum in 2010 and is working in Yellowstone for the summer, and John a former teacher/principal who is now a park interpreter. We have met so many interesting people on our journey. They are almost as great as the rocks and wildlife!

Tonight we have indoor plumbing at the Yellowstone Lake Hotel, which we are truly grateful for. We are also so grateful for Melissa and Megan, our super leaders from the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.

A sneak peak of what’s to come: Yellowstone is all about the ROCKS!!! Get ready for mud pots, geysers, fumaroles, and other geothermal features in days to come!

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