Thursday, August 09, 2012

Yellowstone North Loop -7 August 2012

Our first stop on our exploration of the north loop road was the Gibbon Falls which were more  a nearly vertical set of rapids as the water cascades down a series of rocks steps.   Just a little north of that was a 1/3 mile walk off the road to see the Artists Paintpots. For someone having grown up on the NZ Volcanic Plateau they were distinctly ho-hum, not really all that colourful but the best "boiling mud" we have seen in Yellowstone.

The next major feature is the Norris geyser basin where not a single geyser bothered to bestir itself for our viewing pleasure.  There was one feature spouting hot water a few metres into the air but as it never stops, it is not a geyser and as it spouts water, it is not a fummerole, it is sort of a non-entity.
There were some attractively coloured pools and the runoff areas are striking with the differently coloured thermophile organisms that inhabit these hot and/or acidic waters.

The northernmost point on the loop is Mammoth Hot Springs where the star attractions are silica terraces, mostly white but some stained a burnt orange colour.  From here the scenery changed quite dramatically and as we had now travelled outside the extent of the old caldera there was no significant geothermal activity.

This canyon is really quite spectacular with the Upper (30m) and Lower (90m) Falls crashing through a narrow eroded valley with wonderful colours on the valley walls resulting from the geothermal activity.

After climbing 150m down into the canyon on the Uncle Tom's Trail we were surprised to see that we were still around 50m above a largish patch of ice.  It is amazing, even though we are over 2600m above sea level, given the daytime temperatures that some winter ice could still last through the summer.  Wandering along beside the ice was a lone beaver.

Finished with the southern rim of the canyon, we explored the same views from the northern rim enjoying the colours created by the late afternoon sun.

160 miles today, total trip 4103. States:Wyoming

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