Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Geysers and Hikes

Monday, Aug 13

Woke up this morning at 6 to go and photograph geysers. I was expecting the sky to be much clearer than it was. There's a fire in Idaho that is making everything hazy. Also there were a ton of clouds which slowly went from dark grey to shades of coral and white as the morning progressed.

The lighting was difficult, and the sights were beautiful, but beyond my camera and my photographer's skills. The Moon and Mars (actually, it was Venus, but the fires made Venus look like red Mars) hung in the pinking sky, and I took a shot of those. The combination of the very diffuse light, the vapors, and the white silicate ground around the sinter cones made taking any kind of interesting picture challenging.

The thing I learned was that if you are at a geyser with a camera, and it's doing something interesting which you can see, that's when you want to take a picture.

I returned to our room and we set off for a breakfast. We just missed Fountain Geyser, but drove on a little way to White Cone Geyser. Near the end of our meal the geyser went off. It was funny--as we were eating, folks would drive by, squint at the geyser, which was smoking, and then drive off; it was like watching folks drive by garage sales.

We visted another thermal area, Firehole Lake Drive: a headwater, with lots of geysers half-submerged by river waters and spewing steam into the air. From out of the mists, flying from the veiled valleys above, trumpeter swans came flying and trumpeting.

Then we went to Sentinal Meadows and Ojo Springs. Just to the west of the parking area was a solitary male bison. He seemed more interested in grazing a patch of grass a way from the road than in us.

Ojo Spring, located on the banks above the Gibon River, is supposed to look like an eye, but to me it looked more like it was shaped like a goose with boiling water coming up more or less where a goose's eye would be. We took a trailhead to the meadow of yellow and green spreading out from the river. The wildlife was spectacular. Red and blue dragonflies, smaller blue damsel flies, and white and orange butterflies flitted from flower to pond; the dragonflies especially seemed to like the geyser steams. Mark saw a weasel. And coming over a spur of a hill, we saw a large, yellow coyote. It saw us and went lope-lope-loping away into the pines. From where we saw the coyote, we looked down upon the roofless, Lincoln-log-like remains of Yellowstone's first spa facilities.

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