View at Idlewilld

View at Idlewilld
View at Idlewilld

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Long Morning in Upper Geyser Basin

Natalie wanted to be sure and see Old Faithful go off, so we set out early on the second morning of her visit.  As went past other features,  we just put them on our list for later, because we didn't want to be in the huge crowds around Old Faithful.

When we arrived at the Upper Geyser Basin, we discovered Old Faithful had just gone off and we would have over an hour before the next eruption. So we set off to see as much of the rest of Upper Geyser Basin as possible.

The firehole river runs through the basin

The entire area is mostly these kinds of thin soils over hot ground/water
so boardwalks are necessary

I was fascinated by the patterns and colors 

Beach pool went from placid to boiling  - I made
a collage so you could see the changes too. 

There were pictures to take in every direction as Natalie, Lynn and this photographer proved

Ear Spring

These salt formations looked like bubbles to me

Another long view across the basin

Another view of Firehole River, named for it's smokiness

I also enjoyed the wildflowers that were scattered about where the ground wasn't too hot 

All too soon, it was time to return for the view of Old Faithful erupting.  That takes several minutes and of course MANY pictures.  After that, we rushed back to finish the tour of the basins.  If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't worry about Old Faithful, because we actually saw it erupt three times while we were there - the first time from the observation benches, the second time from the trail to the rest of the features, and the third time from the balcony of the Old Faithful Inn. There are several other geysers that also have predicted eruptions and I would like to see them as well.  The last time I was there, I did get to watch Riverside Geyser erupt which was beautiful with the light allowing a rainbow to form. So, if geysers are your thing, you may want to check on the schedules of the predictable geysers.

A ranger talks about the geyser while people wait for it to erupt

There she blows

Then we rushed back to see more of the features of the Upper Geyser Basin. We walked the road to Morning Glory Pool, the last feature, then took the boardwalk trail back.

Natalie and Lynn at the last feature - Morning Glory

Morning Glory pool - it is losing it's beautiful colors because people throw trash into it
which has caused it to cool and allowed bacteria to grow in it. 

Another beautiful view

The salts often make beautiful structures

The mix of different clays,  bacterial mats, and the temperature gradient
made for a diverse landscape

After we finally finished all the geysers, I still had not gotten to stay long enough to see the Anemone Geyser erupt.  When we finally found it - I thought I had seen it almost as soon as we crossed the river - but we took a trail to the right and you have to take the trail to the left.  So we actually got to it last of all when we were all starving and exhausted.  Natalie and Lynn had no patience left to wait for it. We decided to eat at the Old Faithful Inn Restaurant and it was an excellent choice. And Natalie treated me. Thanks Natalie. Then we spent another few minutes looking around on the first and second floors of the inn.

View of the inn from the second floor

By this time it was about 3:00 and the sky was getting stormy.  We decided a nap overruled more sightseeing, so went back to camp.  The drive home took about twice as long as the drive down because of all the extra traffic.

Here is a map of the basin. If you go get there early as this is the most crowded place in Yellowstone.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Norris Geyser Basin in Two Lights

I am between my second and third visits to Yellowstone National Park.  On both the previous visits, I camped at Norris Campground. Norris Geyser Basin is less than two miles away.  I visited it the first time just before and after sunrise, in a fog. The second time, my friends arrived at camp, ate lunch and took a nap, then we went to the basin mid to late afternoon on a bright, clear day.

I am always impacted by light and loved seeing some of the same geysers in different lights. And it was also really nice to practically have the basin to myself the first time. And people were definitely getting less in number as the day waned during our second visit.

Some of the boardwalks were closed the first visit but open about a week later for the second visit which allowed us to see all the features.

A foggy look across Porcelain Basin

View from a different perspective of most of porcelain basin on a sunny afternoon

The soft light made this picture look like a painting
I liked how the light made the cool blues prominent early in the morning

I loved the soft lightening on this perfect juxtaposition of an old and new pinecone

This has just a pastel and surreal quality about it to me and more hints at what is there, than completely shows it

And no animals would not be hanging out along the trail except very early in the day

I could not often zoom in due to the fog, because the fog blocked closeup views

Some of the features were not yet sun-lit and gave off a moody feel

The afternoon clouds added to the beauty

I was able to zoom in to enjoy the "abstracts"

Another study of the beautiful colors and textures - not possible in fog or low light

A very long afternoon view

The Colloidal pool looked milkier in the afternoon light

And the afternoon wind increased the texture by adding
water ripples to all those colors and surface textures

Steamboat geyser was one I missed the first time
Pork Chop Geyser - it blew up in 1989 and blew those boulders out -is now a quiet pool

I don't think I'll ever get bored looking at the fantastic landscapes in different lighting conditions. But I expect my next visit will be focused on finding birds and other wildlife. And I'll bore you with a few more Yellowstone blogs from visits to other parts of this huge place.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

In Search of Bald Eagles

July 7, 2015

My boss gave me an seemingly easy job.  "Go find our three breeding pair of bald eagles and see if they have young." Two of these pairs are along the route of my bluebird trail so it seemed like a no brainer.

I personally call the eagles, the Idlewild Eagles, because they have a nest near that spot on Lower Lake, Upper Lake Eagles, and Culver Pond Eagles, again named for their locations.

I haven't made it to Culver Pond yet because I need a truck, which means I need to go after work or on the weekends - we are vehicle poor here- and also need someone to be here to call for help, if needed.

I thought I knew exactly where the Idlewild bald eagles are nesting across from my Bluebird Box16W.

The tree seems to have two nests in it

But maybe not.

A tree further to the left of the one in the first picture

And they mostly just sit - sometimes for the 30 - 40 minutes I watch them.  But the other day, I heard crows behind the nest and one eagle went on a little flight that looked like the kind of flights they do when protecting an active nest. But I've seen no feeding, and no babies.

The Upper Lake Eagles are even harder to see.  They have one nest where it is easy to observe from the road.  But they are using a nest in the last group of Engelmann Spruce along Upper Lake  - near the southeastern end.  I spent about an hour just observing and did find the parents.  But no nest and no young were visible.  So I decided to hike in and find the nest.

The Upper Lake eagles have a nest in this patch of trees

Almost as soon as I left the car, and before I found a way through the strip of willows, a bald eagle came flying at me, screaming.  It continued to either fly or sit in the top of a tree and curse me.  Finally, a few hours later, its mate joined in the yelling. But even though I wove back and forth through the area, I never could see the nest.  But I had a wonderful morning walking through forest, meadow, and marsh and having to jump little streams or backtrack for larger ones.

An unhappy bird

I found a nice game trail through the willows. And I was calling to any bears
and had my bear spray. 

Curse you, woman.  Get off my property!

Almost stepped in this lovely little pool

Liatris likes marshy places - these are almost at the end of their bloom

Some parts looked like Goldilocks' woods

Many of the trees had bases about a foot high, made of leftover
pieces of pinecone - left behind by the numerous squirrels in the area

I scared a squirrel away from his dinner

You can't see me

One of several streams I crossed

He's STILL mad at me and now so was his mate

Indian paintbrush was blooming heavily in places

A view of Upper Lake as I was walking out

This eagle watched me leave, still yelling

I'm sure these guys have an active nest. I'll keep watching for fledglings.

On the personal front, friends have just left from meeting me in Yellowstone for four days.  I'm working four or five hard and long days, then taking off to play with another friend next weekend. Last week, I only worked Friday and Saturday so  I am working more hours to catch up.  While helping Jim with fencing, I got to see a brief glimpse of the back end of a baby moose. And one of my tree swallow parents managed to raise EIGHT babies - they will fledge in the next few days. Life is excellent.