First Steps in Yellowstone
What a fantastic start to our Yellowstone Trek! After a good night’s rest in Bozeman, MT, we headed south toward the park through the beautiful Paradise Valley. Some of us saw our first bald eagle as he flew right over our car. No doubt he was looking for his morning meal from the Yellowstone River. Even from the car you can almost feel the intensity of winter by watching the water flow over frozen chunks of ice.
Not long after driving through the famous Roosevelt Arch, we spotted a male bighorn sheep called a ram. Just above him perched in a tree was a juvenile bald eagle. It was a bit surprising to see this wildlife so early in our journey. If this is any indication of our next few days, we are in for an amazing experience.
Our afternoon field trek at Mammoth Hot Springs with Ranger Beth Taylor opened our eyes to different thermal features and how they are formed. Mammoth features are deposits of travertine that create terraces as the water flows down over the cliffs. Travertine can build up as fast as 3 meters per year. There are no geysers at Mammoth Hot Springs. A geyser needs a few things in order to erupt, which is explained by PHEW: plumbing underground, heat, earthquakes, and water. The travertine at Mammoth is too soft, so there is not enough pressure built up to have a geyser. However, we made our own geysers in a neat activity that uses a film canister, water, and Alka Seltzer. If you shake it enough you will get lots of pressure. We will be able to see the real thing tomorrow when we travel to Old Faithful.
Written by Cindy, Meghan, and Robert