|Day 9 - Yellowstone National Park, WY
||[Aug. 15th, 2004|10:00 pm]
Trip Odometer: 2751 mi|
We woke up an hour earlier today due to the early checkouts in YNP. After having a quick breakfast of oatmeal we drove about 50 miles west to get showers at the Old Faithful area. We were almost quick enough to catch an eruption after the showers, but we just missed it, so we continued on to Madison to set up camp for the night. The road to Madison was absolutely filled with interesting looking thermal features and pull-outs and I was excited to see them later in the day.
We did make it back to Old Faithful, but we missed the second eruption by a matter of minutes. We had decided to take 2 side roads off of the main road (Firehole Lake Drive and Firehole Canyon Drive), which were definitely worthwhile but probably slowed us down a decent amount. Instead we got lunch, and waited (not that long, as it turns out) for the next eruption. We also spent some time at a ranger program that described the different thermal features – which was almost as interesting as the one after the eruption that described why Old Faithful is so faithful [its because the “plumbing” isn’t combined with other features] (I’m really impressed by most of these ranger talks – they make it simple, but not dumb and the rangers are always willing to try to answer questions afterwards and before the talks.
The Old Faithful eruption I saw didn’t impress me that much. Certainly, it didn’t live up to the hype that I had been attuned to before getting here. More or less, we waited for some time, water shot out of a hole in the ground (and not to “150+ feet” as was advertised). It also didn’t really “rocket” out and was more of a continual gush for a few minutes.
Next we decided to drive back towards Madison and start visiting sites. The first was a small geyser basin called Biscuit Basin, which had some nice looking formations. Next, we took a 6.6 mile hike to a 200-ft waterfall called Fairy Falls and a geyser with “frequent small eruptions” called Imperial Geyser.
This was definitely a worthwhile hike, the falls were quite impressive, and the geyser was beautiful, and more impressive (to me, anyway) than Old Faithful. It erupted almost (but not quite) continuously while we were there, and had a beautiful multi-colored creek leading away from it. (actually, it technically had two vents through which it erupted). While we were there it started to rain and we had foolishly left our ponchos in the car. Some other group who was there insisted that we take one of their ponchos, so we did (but we didn’t wind up using it, the rain stopped shortly thereafter). On the way back to the car, we stopped at the falls again and duckmonster went wading in the pools beneath them.
We finished the trip back to Madison with one more stop at the Midway Geyser Basin, which we had gotten some distant views of from our hike. In this basin is the Excelsior Geyser Crater which used to erupt up to 300 feet, but stopped for many years until is started again briefly in the mid-80s. It hasn’t erupted since then, but currently dumps about 4000 gallons of hot water a minute into the Firehole river.
When we got back to Madison, we had a steak dinner and planned our trip to Craters of the Moon tomorrow. We also went to a ranger program about the wolf repopulation effort, but I think this ranger was new and/or nervous, and combined with a badly rung out PA it wasn’t as good as the other two talks. It was still interesting to hear about though.
Bed early tonight to leave early again tomorrow.
Today I also finished the 1.0GB memory card and had to download to the laptop. 500 pictures so far.