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Soaking in the moments

June 24, 2017

Hello from Yellowstone! We are over the halfway point and feeling a little tired but still eager to learn and experience the beauty of this place.

A quote that encapsulates the importance of soaking up this experience is by Rachel Carson; it reads, “One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, ‘what if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?’ ” We are soaking in every moment!

Today we started our morning at the Fishing Bridge swarmed with early morning tourists. Since arriving we have found that the southern portion of the park is flooded with people, but rightfully so because it is captivating. After snapping a few photos we quickly retreated into the woods and took a short hike around Pelican Creek Trail. We walked down to the shoreline of Yellowstone Lake and practiced with watercolor and took time to absorb the beauty of this place, just like Thomas Moran, one of the first commissioned artists to the area which would later be named Yellowstone National Park. His work piqued the interest of Congress back in 1871 and encouraged Yellowstone to become named the First National Park in the United States in 1872 under President Ulysses S. Grant.

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At the shores of Pelican Creek Trail we heard the melody of the boreal chorus frog and discovered there are only 5 species of amphibians and 6 species of reptiles in Yellowstone. We would later get to see a Tiger Salamander, the only salamander in Yellowstone National Park. We were sure to use clean hands when touching the adult salamander and searched Isa Lake for more larvae and adult salamanders before departing and spending time in West Thumb.

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West Thumb is well known for its many geothermal features. Today we only began to graze the surface of thermophiles and extremophiles – the heat living organisms that call the thermal features home. The depth of knowledge required to understand all of the geological features in the park is significant, but we are excited to continue to explore this topic.

The geological features come in the form of mud pots, hot springs, fumeroles (steam vents), and geysers like Old Faithful herself. Over time Old Faithful has shifted from releasing water every 60 minutes to every 90 minutes. These eruptions of water are caused by a couple of main ingredients: heat, water, and pressure. We got to observe Old Faithful this evening several times. It is majestic seeing the water disperse for more than 4 minutes. Crowds gather to watch this phenomenon!

We hope to continue to fully embrace the beauty of this place for one more full day tomorrow.

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