Thursday, September 15, 2016

Yellowstone - Day 2: Mammoth

So our second day in Yellowstone we started the drive from Canyon to Mammoth.  Now that drive is only about 40 miles - but it took us HOURS.... because we saw lots of wildlife and just enjoyed the journey!

The view from Tower Fall was beautiful!

 We took a detour and decided to head back to Lamar Valley - to see if we saw any different wildlife and to get a glimpse in the daylight!

We saw a lot of our "friends" from the night before....

We stopped to see what a group was set up to look at - an Osprey nest.
 Stopped for a few bison crossings.....
 Saw a coyote!

 More pronghorn deer...

And finally we wind our way into Mammoth Hot Springs!
It's a cute little Yellowstone town - with it's own herd of Elk.  They pretty much rule the roost around there.  When we got there - this big fella was a bit out of sorts because a young buck had tried to come in to his turf.  So we were moved back several times as the females kept moving towards us.  I didn't have my camera ready for when he charged a car that was trying to pass by.

After watching the elk for a bit we headed into the educational center.  Nicole is officially not as tall as a bison!

After a little break, we headed over to check out the Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces.  I wish pictures could describe it - it's like walking on the moon.  Everything is boiling hot.  In some places it even looks like the boardwalk is getting burned (which it is) - and the railing can be super hot from the temps from the springs.

 It looks like snow - but definitely wouldn't feel like it - it's layers and layers of Calcium Carbonate.  We were there as a 6th grade science class was on a field trip- and learned a lot by listening in.  The average temp was 150 and it wasn't acidic - it had the same acidity as tap water. 

 I was so amazed at the charred trees that had been overrun by the runoff.  They are just baked in there!

After some exploring at Mammoth, we headed off on an afternoon drive to head down south a bit.  We knew we'd be pressed for time the next day with a lot we wanted to do - so we wanted to go ahead and check off some sites.
 Out of the mountains, we found a grassy area and ran into this family of deer.
 On the way back to Mammoth (going North) we crossed the Golden Gate - which was the original passage way through here ---- it's a little nervewracking driving around cliffs.

We stopped for a view...
 And spotted a mountain goat....  (he's a little hard to see - look for the white speck standing on an orange rock....

And while we were there admiring the goat taking his time getting back up the mountain side - some people started walking across the bear and congregating where we were.... so I asked what was down there - and low and behold, a grizzly bear!  We had stopped earlier to see him (on the other side of the bridge) but he was behind a rock and really all you could see was a brown tush.  Evidently, he woke up and started to move.
 We were at a safe distance - up on the overlook - he was way down in the ravine....
 And as we are watching - he suddenly turns and starts bounding UP the rocks.... in the direction where we are standing.  At this point, the Ranger who has showed up (whenever you see a ranger on the side of the road- there is a bear nearby), starts yelling to everyone where I was - to get back in their cars.  That bear was fast!!!!!

 At this point, I'm safely in my car - perhaps slightly hanging out the window to see where he was going....

 Well, he crossed the road and went right on up past where the mountain goat had been.  That was soooo cool!

Back in Mammoth, as we headed back to our cabin - we found lots more elk around.
 This was the young buck that had been causing trouble earlier.  Evidently he decided to hang around a bit longer.

 And then the girls set to work on their Junior Ranger books!

A good nights sleep is on the agenda because tomorrow it's all about geysers!!!!!

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