Here are some excerpts from people who explored the region now known as Yellowstone. Which do you find realistic? Which do you find fantastical?
“At length we came to a boiling Lake about 300 foot in diameter forming nearly a complete circle as we approached on the South side. The steam which arose from it was of three distinct Colors from the west side for one third of the diameter it was white, in the middle it was pale red, and the remaining third on the east light sky blue. Whether it was something peculiar in the state of the atmosphere the day being cloudy or whether it was some Chemical properties contained in the water, which produced this phenomenon. I am unable to say and shall leave the explanation to some scientific tourist who may have the Curiosity to visit this place at some future period—The water was of deep indigo blue boiling like an immense cauldron running over the white rock which had formed [round] the edges to the height of 4 or 5 feet from the surface of the earth sloping gradually for 60 or 70 feet. What a field of speculation this presents for chemist and geologist.”—Osborne Russell, 1839
“One geyser, a soda spring, was so effervescent that I believe the syrup to be the only thing lacking to make it equal a giant ice cream soda of the kind now popular at a drugstore. We tried some experiments with our first discovery by packing it down with armfuls of grass; then we placed a flat stone on top of that, on which four of us, joining hands, stood in a vain attempt to hold it down. In spite of our efforts to curb Nature’s most potent force, when the moment of necessity came, Old Steam Boat would literally rise to the occasion and throw us all high into the air, like so many feathers.”—William Clark Kennerly, 1843
This day it would be just my son and I exploring Yellowstone, as the rest of the group have scheduled a boat at a local lake.
Leaving at 7:30AM we head for the upper (northern) loop in the park as we first want to visit the Mammoth Hot Springs area, then work our way back south. Passing Norris Geyser Basin for later in the day or tomorrow we continue clockwise on the east side of the loop. We soon encounter a major road construction project going on. There must have been at least 8 plus miles (13 km) of broken pavement and dirt one-lane road to travel before we are back on the 2-lane asphalted roadway.
Mammoth Hot Springs heat source remains a mystery; it is thought to be the same heating source as Norris Geyser Basin with a fault system running between the two. Fractures and fissures in the rock form the watering system that allows water to surface from underground. Limestone in the ground and water from rain and snow are the ingredients that form this area’s features. The terraces are living sculptures always changing, it is estimated that only 10 percent of the water is visible above ground while 90 percent remains underground.
Arriving at Mammoth Hot Springs we decide to explore the Lower Terraces, leaving the Upper Terraces for tomorrow. Consisting of travertine terraces we walk along familiar boardwalks, some with steep grades or have many stairs so people with disabilities please be mindful. Water flowing down the terraces creates orange and brown palates like oil paints on the white travertine backdrop. Several of the features have differing levels of activity. Some years they are very dry, while during others they flow so heavily the water covers the boardwalks. These hot springs are in the shadow of Mineral Hot Springs village, in fact the village is built on top of one of the terraces of these springs.
Photos are the only way to show the marvels of this area, so please enjoy.
Next post I will continue with the rest of the day including our visit to Fort Yellowstone in the Mammoth Hot Springs village area.