About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I spend countless hours running in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I call it "going to church". I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Yellowstone National Park

Last month I wrote about my grandparents who took a road trip out west in the 50’s. I shared a few of my grandfather’s photos of the Grand Tetons. Cara, Maddie and I also went to the Tetons (See my post: Tetons) and then went on to Yellowstone for a few days. Since I didn’t have time to write about the Yellowstone part yet, I thought I would share some photos I took and a few of my grandfather’s from the 50s.

 (Photo: Ernest Dawson)
Grandma Bea driving through Wawona Tree
in Yosemite NP. It fell over in 1969.

(Photo: Ernest Dawson)
Grandma at Devil's Tower, WY 

The first thing we did when we arrived in Yellowstone was join the masses to view Old Faithful which was actually my least favorite geyser. But, "When you’re in Rome…" well, you know. As you can see from my grandfather’s photo of Old Faithful, he climbed up to Geyser Hill to get a more bird’s eye view of the eruption. 

(Photo: Ernest Dawson)
Old Faithful in the 1950s 
I will say that the highlight of this area was the rustic Old Faithful Inn. The lodge, constructed in 1904, is the largest log hotel and possibly the largest log structure still standing in the world. The intricate lobby towers seven stories high, is adorned with twisted branches and includes an 85 foot stone fireplace. The top floor know as the “crow’s nest” was used by an orchestra to entertain guests who danced on the floor below. It was weakened in an earthquake in 1959 and is no longer in use.

Old Faithful Inn

Thermal springs in the Old Faithful area

Although I didn’t have the opportunity to run in the park, we took many short hikes along the boardwalks to view the geothermal features. These are perfect trails for young kids because they are short, mostly flat and have plenty of spectacular sights to see. One morning, we took a side road called Firehole Lake Dr and stopped at the Great Fountain Geyser where there was nary a soul around. The geyser was bubbling and steaming like a witches cauldron, but we weren’t sure when it would erupt.

Great Fountain Geyser
A geyser adjacent to Great Fountain

Just then an enthusiastic park ranger showed up and told us to stay put because it was going to blow in about 20 minutes. She was extremely animated because the eruptions had been spectacular this particular week lasting for 1-2 hours. Indeed we enjoyed a great show as the fountain pulsated shooting up in a twisting motion like a tornado. This was my favorite geyser to watch, but it only erupts about every 9-15 hours. 

Some other geysers in the park

Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the park, was also a spectacular sight to see. The rainbow colors are created from different temperatures of water, the hottest being in the middle where the water comes out of the ground. Water cools as it moves away from the center and different types of bacteria grow according to their temperature tolerance. Heat loving bacteria form large microbial mats around this and other springs and geysers in Yellowstone.
Grand Prismatic Spring

Microbial Mat

Perhaps the most soothing features to watch are the mud pots. These bubbling mud holes are created from surface water that collects in clay depressions and are heated from thermal water and gasses below the ground. Microorganisms convert hydrogen sulfide gas into sulfuric acid which breaks down rock forming more clay. Had I known better, I would’ve arrived early in the morning before the crowds, assumed the lotus position and listened to the sounds of the Artist’s Paint Pots.

Mud Pots

One of our goals on this trip was to spot some wildlife up close without being gored by a bison as happened to four Yellowstone visitors so far this season. (Read: Bison Attack) The bison in the park comprise the only free range herd left in America following man’s near decimation of the entire species. After not seeing many animals the first day, we decided to drive north where we heard there was more wildlife. 

Mountain Bluebirds
A traffic jam on the park road was our indication of wildlife and we were just in time to see a herd of bison cross the road right in front of us. On another occasion, I spotted a bison immediately on the side of the road so I pulled over beside it. Probably not the smartest thing to do since they have been known to charge and ram cars. When I was beside the behemoth I told Maddie to look out her window. Her eyes grew to the size of saucers because he was right beside her, maybe 8-10 feet away. When I pulled away she exclaimed, “WHOA! That was AWESOME!” A little while later we watched a bull elk feeding on the side of the road.

Bison Herd
Spike Bull Elk

Yellowstone is an amazing place with some of the world’s greatest natural wonders. Wake up early to beat the crowds or stay out late to watch the sunset. Most people are on the boardwalk trails during the middle of the day. 

Here are some more photos:

Strange plant like something from another planet

See you on the trail.


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