Thursday, August 31, 2017

Yellowstone, via the Chief Joseph Scenic Drive to the Northeast Gate







 







 
 

 OPEN RANGE... Cows (like this one) and other critters (Bison, Deer, Bears, etc) can be found in the middle of the road as there are no fences between the roads and the fields. Only cattle guards exist between 'open range' land and non-open areas or roadways.


The Beartooth Mountains are located in south central Montana and northwestern Wyoming. and are a part of the 900,000 acre Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, within Custer, Gallatin and Shoshoni National Forests. Viewed in the center is Bears Tooth Peak (elevation 11,915 feet).
 
  These yellow wildflowers are starting to bloom along the sides
of the roads and around lakes and ... everywhere. 
 
A herd of bison can be seen from many roadways.

 BELOW:  Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone NP
Mammoth Hot Springs at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming













There are many signs warning pedestrians to stay on the wooden walking paths because the areas around the thermal features are extremely brittle and can give way under a person's weight and footprint. Here, one instance of it giving way on it's own. Sometimes even a bubbling feature succumbs to an earthquake and gets clogged up, whereby it seeks escape and finds another place to bubble to the surface. The clogged one dries and seems dead and solid but often another earthquake or even a person's disturbing the area can cause it to unplug and renew its opening of steam and volcanic debris to the surface, as well as give way to swallow anyone who has been dumb enough to disregard the signs and walk out onto the delicate thermal features.
 
However, the Park Rangers have not figured out how to post signs that the elk can understand, as they weigh even more that an average human... males 710-730 lbs. and females 500-530 lbs.

These white mounds with mustard-colored coatings draining from its sides can be seen for miles and add to the picturesque beauty of the land.
Geothermal areas of Yellowstone include several geyser basins in Yellowstone National Park as well as other geothermal features such as hot springs, mud pots,fumaroles and travertine terraces.  GEYSERS are a type of geothermal feature  that periodically erupt scalding hot water. HOT SPRINGS are the most common hydrothermal features in the park. Their plumbing has no constrictions. Super heated water cools as it reaches the surface, sinks and is replaced by hotter water from below. The circulation (called 'convection') prevents the water from reaching the temperature needed to set off an eruption. MUD POTS are acidic hot springs with a limited water supply. Some microorganisms use hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell), which rises from within the earth as an energy source and convert the gas into sulfuric acid, which breaks down the rock into clay. FUMAROLES (or steam vents) are the hottest hydrothermal features in Yellowstone. They have so little water that it all flashes into steam before reaching the surface. At places like  'Roaring Mountain', the result is a hissing of steam and gases. TRAVERTINE TERRACES (like here art Mammoth Hot Springs) are formed from limestone, which is a rock made of calcium carbonate . Thermal waters rise through the limestone carrying high amounts of dissolved carbonate. CO2 is released at the surface and calcium carbonate deposited as travertine (the chalky white rock of the terraces. 














Further along, on the way out, a bad stretch of the road (with no warning) makes it slow traveling and very dusty.

 








 
 Fancy that.... BIG BOY in the middle of a field.
 







 







Couldn't identify these but had to take a photo as we don't see many large birds flying, other than vultures and ravens.
 



Sometimes the road is full of sharp curves  and sometimes it is straight and long.





Another herd of bison...





 Then we found a cool spot under the trees and next to a river, in a picnic area and had lunch. There we were visited by two Grey Jays who were comfortable enough at 'begging' from humans coming within 2-3 feet of us, but not trusting enough to be hand fed. Naturally, they saw the "CRITTER SUCKERS" (invisible to humans but visible to critters)stamped on our foreheads and made the most of it.   







Way across the lake we thought we saw a moose... BUT it was just a Bison butt-shot.



Fishing!
 
NEXT POST: Grand Tetons - North End
Until then, Happy Trails!

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