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Yellowstone National Park trip report, August 22 to 25, 2017

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Offline Jonathan Sadow

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Yellowstone National Park trip report, August 22 to 25, 2017
« on: October 03, 2017, 02:15:29 AM »
After my visit to Grand Teton National Park, I made the short drive northward to Yellowstone National Park.  I'd visited YELL once before, 15 years ago, and stayed at Mammoth Hot Springs while visiting some of the sights mostly in the northern part of the park.  This time, I stayed in Geyser Basin, where Old Faithful is, to see the southern part of the park.  I came into the park near sunset, just in time to take a picture of the sun setting over Lewis Lake:


17822019 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

I noticed that just south of Geyser Basin is a thermal feature called the Lone Star Geyser. Being from the Lone Star State, I decided I had to check it out, so I hiked there on August 23.  As it turns out, the name has nothing to do with Texas - the geyser was named that because it stands conspicuously apart from the other geysers in the Old Faithful area.  Near the trailhead to the geyser are the spectacular Kepler Cascades, formed where the Firehole River crosses a resistant layer of rock:


17823001 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

The Firehole River is usually more sedate:


17823002 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

It's named that because water from various thermal features enters it, causing it to be about 20 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it normally would be.  Gray Jays flew around the trail:


17823003 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

Unfortunately, I missed the geyser's eruption by about 20 minutes, and as its eruption period is about three hours, I didn't have time to wait around that long, so here's an image of the geyser when it's not erupting:


17823006 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

It might not be apparent, but the tufa mound of the geyser is impressively large - it's about nine feet tall.  On the way back, I got a good Red Squirrel photo:


17823011 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

Staying at the Old Faithful Lodge Cabins, I noticed that the trailhead for the trail to Mallard Lake was just a couple of hundred feet from my cabin, so on the 24th I decided to hike to the lake and from there follow the Mallard Creek and Powerline Trails and loop back to Geyser Basin.  Hiking along the first part of the trail, you can see the remnants of the great Yellowstone fire of nearly 30 years ago:


17824003 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

Turning a corner, I was fortunate to spot a female Dusky Grouse on the trail with two poults in the grass near her.  Here's the mother:


17824005 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

The trail shows the forest recovering from the fire, Lodgepole Pines being the most common tree, along with some White Pines and Quaking Aspens:


17824006 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

There were no mallards at Mallard Lake, but I did spot one Barrow's Goldeneye paddling in the water:


17824009 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

Hiking along the Mallard Creek Trail, I stopped for lunch at an overlook of the lake to the southeast:


17824012 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

Off to the north, one can see across the creek to Purple Mountain and the rest of the Gallatin Range beyond it:


17824011 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

The trail descends along the creek, and just before encountering the trailhead along the Grand Loop Road it intersects with the Powerline Trail.  This trail for the most part runs a short distance parallel to the road going back to Geyser Basin and gets its name because it runs next to the utility lines running north and south from the basin.  Eventually, one reaches Geyser Basin itself and begins to see thermal features, such as Mirror Pool,...


17824019 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

... Gem Pool,...


17824020 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

... Grotto Geyser,...


17824021 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

... and Castle Geyser:


17824022 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

As I marveled at Castle Geyser, I was fortunate in that behind it in the distance Grand Geyser started to erupt:


17824023 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

My timing continued to be impeccable;  as I came up to Old Faithful at the end of my trek it too began to erupt, giving me the chance to take the obligatory picture of it erupting that all tourists to Yellowstone must take:


17824025 by Jonathan Sadow, on Flickr

I started back home the next day, knowing that I'd have to return some day to do some backpacking, but I still had one stop to make once I got to Texas, at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

 


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