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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Geysers, Falls and Paint Pots, Oh My!

Hi Blog!  Yellowstone has so many features that you can't see them all in one day.  Today we went to see the Midway Geiser Basin, Fairy Falls and the Lower Geyser Basin, home of the Fountain Paint Pot.

Our first stop was Midway Geiser Basin.  As we approached the basin, we could see the water from the hot springs spilling down into the Firehole River, leaving a mat of bright orange bacteria along its path.

The geysers weren't active, but there were lots of colorful pools, with large clouds of white and blue steam rising from them.

The colors of the bacterial growth around some of the pools were prismatic - hence the name of one of them:  "Prismatic Pool."  See how blue the water is itself, surrounded by bright oranges, purples and pinks:

The hotter the pool, the darker the blue and clearer the water:

After Midway Geiser Basin, we drove to the trailhead for the Fairy Falls hike.  It was 5 miles round trip.  The first part of the hike was through new growth lodgepole pines that had sprung up after the 1988 fire.  Fairy Falls spills water over the rim of hills around the geyser basin.

Here's Kathy, miming, "So Big!" in reaction to the height of the falls:

As we sat gazing up at the falls, we wondered what it must be like in winter.  Would it be frozen solid, would the ice pile up in strange shapes.  As you know, the Internet knows all.  We merely Googled Fairy Falls in winter - now behold the falls in all its frozen glory!

On our hike back from Fairy Falls, we passed the back side of the Midway Geyser Basin, and could see steam rising from the pools.  The vapor was so hot that it appeared blue, which contrasted beautifully with the pink-orange sinter field around the pool:

Our next stop was Fountain Paint Pot area, where we saw lots of mud pots, including this giant pool of bubbling grey goo.  Depending on the mineral content of the mud, it can appear any color from a grey to a pastel pink.  The Crow Indians used the pink mud to paint their tipis.

This sign reminded us of our time in China, where we saw signs reporting such important facts as, "Slipy Carefully," and, "The Tender Grass is Afraid of Your Trample."  We wondered how we could get wet, and then how that would cause us to walk slippery.

Spasm Geyser was the only geyser active in this area when we were there.  It spouted more or less continuously while we were there.  Fountain Geyser, which seems to be connected underground with Spasm Geyser, is said to be spectacular when it erupts.  We think we saw it from the road the other day as we were passing the area.  It spouted perhaps 100 feet into the air.

After Fountain Paint Pot, we stopped at the Nez Perce Picnic Area to have lunch and scout out our fishing spots along the Nez Perce River where it flows into the Firehole River.  As we walked down to the Firehole River, we ran across Ms. Elk going for a wade and munching on tender shoots:

We called it a day around 2:30 and hightailed it home before the tourist traffic got too heavy leaving the park.  Thunderstorms were predicted for this afternoon and we wanted to get back to camp before they hit.  However, the afternoon was still sunny around 5:00 pm, and we think maybe we'll go for a swim and make a campfire.

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