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Ride~About: Winter Gray on Gray

How exciting to be traveling into Yellowstone via snowcoach on this winter day, although a very gray winter day. Our trip has been planned for about a month. It is totally overcast, snowing occasionally, but not too cold–in the mid 20’s. Since we are all photographers, we hope the weather will improve, but ya pay for ya ride and take ya chances!

We left West Yellowstone traveling through the West Entrance. We will be driving to Madison Junction then to Old Faithful, with stops all along the way at the various thermal basins. As we drive along the Madison River, we are hoping to see a bobcat or the pair that have been hunting in the river over the last few weeks. Keep your fingers crossed. We’ll also hope for some sun as the day progresses, then again, there is never a bad day in Yellowstone!

snowcoach gray view

 

Here we go!

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Five-Geyser Day

What an absolutely gorgeous day in the Old Faithful area. The sky is so blue it looks like God Photoshopped it! There is no wind making 50° feel much warmer. Most everything except the Visitor’s Center is closed for the season which translates into very few people and bring your own lunch. I want to check if the rangers are still noting eruption times for the most predictable geysers at the Information Desk in the VC. I’ve yet to see Castle Geyser erupt and I’m hoping today is the day. WOW, we are in luck. Old Faithful is due to erupt in two minutes. Well, that’s give or take ten minutes, but Castle Geyser is expected to erupt 45 minutes later. A beautiful day and very few people making for a quiet, relaxing stroll around Upper Geyser Basin. Thar she blows!

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Continue our geyser walk . . .

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Firehole Sunrise

The three-mile loop road known as Firehole Lake Drive is amazing in the autumn. At sunrise we see the warmth of the sun battling the cold air, low clouds, massive amounts of thermal steam, and fog. It can take hours for the sun to finally break through. During that process, we meander through an eerie, cloaked landscape that envelops us. Welcome to a Firehole sunrise.

pre-sunrise

Making our way to the lake . . .

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Artist Paintpots Sojourn

Along the Gibbon River, between Norris and Madison Junctions in Yellowstone, is the often ignored Gibbon Geyser Basin. Unless there are bison, elk, other ungulates (hoofed animals), or the occasional coyote feeding in Gibbon Meadows, people pass by this area on the way to Old Faithful or Norris Geyser Basin. The most popular and most beautiful collection of thermal features in the Gibbon Geyser Basin are found along the 1.1 mile loop trail called Artist Paintpots. We walk about 1/3 of a mile through a young lodgepole pine forest which is reestablishing itself after the 1988 fires. So let’s head out and take our time in this colorful collection of thermal features.

trailhead

Onward to beautiful colors . . .

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Porcelain Beauty

edge of change-2554

The western side of Yellowstone offers an otherworldly experience of fumaroles (steam vents), hot springs, mudpots, and geysers . Here our wilderness walks are on boardwalks with brief excursions through hearty pines standing tall as they resist heat, steam, acidity, and constant sometimes violent change. Today we walk the volcano’s edge in northeast Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest and most acidic geyser basin in Yellowstone. Welcome to  Porcelain Basin.

Continue walking . . .

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Early, Steamy, Surreal

That travel alarm is really annoying with it’s inescapable bbbzzzzzzzz. Remind me again why it is blaring at 4:30am? Right, I’m staying at the Old Faithful Inn in order to greet dawn’s twilight near the Firehole Lake thermals. Watching as the sun rises issuing a challenge to the  23° temperature. Remember your hat and gloves.

It is the beginning of October with a 6:15am twilight, that first hint of promising warm sunshine. Happily it is October rather than June when twilight is 4:55am. A little perspective gets me moving. We want to be ready, camera in hand, to see the morning mist, the thermal steam, and their interaction as the sky grows light and the sun rises.

Bobby-sock Forest

Continue our twilight walk