Summer 2008 Trip: Day 31 – Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

I slept in until the oh so glorious hour of 7am. Wait, what’s that? 7am? I must be getting up too early on a regular basis.

In keeping with a leisurely morning, sneaking into the Old Faithful Inn for a shower was in the cards, followed by a buffet breakfast (Hey, I ran out of pop tarts a few days ago and dried knock-off Cheerios were getting old.)

There were a couple places left in Yellowstone that I wanted to see, mainly because they were on the way to a couple waterfalls, and we all know how much I love taking photos of waterfalls. So, I started my morning by finding a couple of elk carcasses that were pretty well chewed up alongside the road to my first stop. Yeah, I have pictures, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to make the carcasses look… interesting. Sure, they were cool to see, but how do I translate that into a photograph? Perhaps I should have grabbed my 50mm f/1.8 lens and used a narrow depth of field to capture just parts of the carcass at a time; I’ll have to stop by and see if it’s still there on my way to Glacier.

Not a whole lot going on the rest of the day; geysers, mud pots, fumaroles, hot springs, canyons and waterfalls. There is one thing that stuck with me though. Almost everyone has probably seen the Discovery Channel’s (or maybe it’s one of the other “educational” channels’) show on how Yellowstone is a super-volcano that could blow up at any time and destroy the world as we know it. I’ve always thought, “What a bunch of bunk; no way it could happen, especially not without warning.” I’ve begun to take the concept a little more seriously since spending a few days in the park.

Now, hear me out before you call me loony. A good portion of Yellowstone is actually the caldera of a volcano (you know, the part at the top of the cone that the lava always spews from in the movies). Not only that, but it’s active. Seriously, it is. You can’t really appreciate that fact until you visit Yellowstone; when you’re walking along and all of a sudden you pass a hole in the ground which is venting steam and hissing like a punctured cylinder of propane. And that’s sitting next to a hole in the ground that’s spewing 4,000 gallons of steaming water a minute into one of the nearby rivers. Now, picture yourself in a field full of these types of features. It brings the scenario home, that’s for sure.

A number of the Yellowstone features were created when earthquakes struck the area. Geysers that had died came back to life, new mudpots formed, other features stopped erupting. What happens if an earthquake hits and causes the perfect storm of events that leads to an eruption? Features that currently vent pressure have their “plumbing” turned off. That pressure has to go somewhere.

Anyways, that was my big thought for the day. My afternoon wasn’t too exciting, some laundry, some shopping (I picked up a bottle of Moose Drool Beer as a souvenir). And this evening I headed back south to the Tetons in order to find my sunrise spot. Right now, I’m camped out in the back of my Jeep in an area I’m probably not supposed to be because I don’t want to pay $20 for a spot of land large enough to pitch my tent on; though I might tomorrow night just so I can shower.

Plans for tomorrow: sunrise shots, I’ve got two locations planned and a nike around Lake Jenny.

Day 31 - Yellowstone to Grand Teton National Park

Travel Distance: 150 miles

2 thoughts on “Summer 2008 Trip: Day 31 – Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

  1. Good thought and a good wording of it too. Though I have seen programs about this park on educational channels/DVDs seemingly countless times, it doesn’t stick in the head until and unless one experiences it first hand (or hears the articulation it first hand)…

    Waiting for photos :)


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