Yellowstone: Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone: A Close Encounter

October 1st, 2015

What happened…

Andrew writes: Since we knew that Jen and Michel would be waking up earlier than we usually do, we kept our ears open in the morning for the first sounds of them waking up. It that like stalking? It was really nice being up at 0700hrs for a change, since that meant we were ready to go before 0900hrs. We escorted our new friends to the Visitor Centre, and while they arranged backcountry camp sites, Amanda had a shower and I surfed the Internet. With their arrangements made, we bid them adieu since they were heading east and we were going south. We agreed to meet up again in a few days near Old Faithful.

All we knew about the road south was that there was a lot of construction to be expected. What we came to learn was that the road goes straight up from Mammoth for about 5 miles, but then it plateaus and there are prairies up at the top, ringed by more mountains. It is so beautiful!

There were a few things we stopped at to see along the way that weren’t on any of our maps. This includes the Apollonaris Spring, a trio of spouts sticking out of the rock offering up free club soda and the Roaring Mountain, which was a giant hillside of geysers. The features that did show up on our map were actually less attractive, such as the Obsidian Cliff, and Gibbons Falls. How is it that some things are on the map and others aren’t?? Either put them all on there or make the entire park a mystery!

The highlight today was definitely the hours we spent walking around the Norris Geyser Basin. We walked about 2 miles of wooden boardwalk and encountered geysers geysing, springs springing, and fumaroles (steam vents) fuming. The landscape all around looked to be on fire, with puffs of steam everywhere. Fortunately my nose doesn’t work very well, as the sulphuric smell was quite strong. The springs were shades of brown, orange, green, grey, and blue. My favourite was the small Vixen geyser. It is small, and rather plain looking, but when I walked by, it spouted 10 feet into the air! Amanda didn’t see it happen, so then she stood and waited for about 5 minutes, and sure enough, it erupted again. It was so cool!

We headed out of Norris, aiming for Ice Lake, where we had booked a backcountry campsite. When we saw the turn off for the one-way Virginia Cascade Drive, we took it, since it was supposed to pop out right beside the lake. This road was phenomenal, with rocks on the left, and a sheer drop below on the right. At the top of the Drive, a beautiful waterfall cascaded down a hundred feet into the canyon. Up, up, up we went. Amanda read off our elevation every few minutes. We topped over 2400m and came across a picnic area.

We decided not only to have dinner here, where there was a table, garbage cans and washroom, but also to hunt around for a stealth camping spot. Amanda found one in the trees a few hundred feet away, and so after dinner we set up our tent and settled in. It was dark, and the Drive wasn’t very busy, meaning that the chances of us being detected were slim. Suddenly we saw a flash outside of the tent, and heard the crash of thunder. A few seconds later, a wolf howled. As the storm picked up outside, and more howling erupted from the hills around us, I figured we were in for a long night.

Amanda writes:
As Andrew said the ride was beautiful. Again Yellowstone National Park is everything I had dreamed of. The endless amounts of animals, beautiful scenery and unique landscape are breathtaking at every turn. If you haven’t been here, put it on your bucket list and take your time.

We decided to wild camp and I’m glad we did. The electrical storm that happened as we were sleeping or trying to sleep was awesome! My sister Sam would love it. I have fond memories of her and I calling each other on the phone when we lived near each other to share the storms. It was right on top of us and went on for a long time. Throwing in the howling wolf just made it seem like a movie!

Today’s Photographs

Yellowstone: Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone: A Close Encounter