At 6:00 we get up (as usual) but since the motel only offers coffee at 7:30am I walk to the gas station around the corner to get some coffee for Marco. They have the usual Thermos pots with regular filter coffee and and they have a fancy machine which offers Hot Chocolate, Hot Tea and French Vanilla Cappuccino, intending to surprise Marco with a nice coffee I opt for the French Vanilla Cappuccino and proudly present it back in the motel – unfortunately, it turns out to be more like sugar water with some flavor, disgustingly sweet and not much resemblance with a cappuccino at all.
Soon after we had a regular coffee from the motel we drive into the sun. It’s a beautiful morning clear skies but cold, 30 to 35 Fahrenheit (around 0 Celsius). At the first intersection we turn south towards Old Faithful and from there slowly “work” our way from one geyser basin to the next. This whole area has so much thermic activity that it feels like walking on a steam cook pot, and you can never be sure that the lid is still holding tight. Because it’s so cold, the steam clouds are visible from far.
As we are walking on one of the trails we see some bisons approaching, they march between the geysers and even cross the wooden trail and shy away people. They are neither bothered by the cars on the streets nor by the people walking there. It’s their land (always has been) and they just go their way!
Towards 10:00am the temperature starts rising, within an hour it’s almost 70 Fahrenheit (20 Celsius) and we start peeling off layers of clothes. The biggest and one of the most impressive geysers is Midway, especially viewed from the hill at the back side of the pool. From there you can see the size and the colors – it’s almost surreal. Suddenly, we see something moving at the border of the geyser: a coyote, a nice big coyote.
We skip Old Faithful as there are too many people, as usual, and arrive at West Thumb, we take the trail around the Central Basin, where we see more of these natural beauties. One of the pools, Abyss, is 16 meters deep, the others seem to be close to that. There are even some geysers out in the Lake. Fishing Cone is one of them and it’s said that the Indians boiled their fish in there after fishing in the lake. Walking back to the parking lot we spot a deer grazing between the geyser pools, two more are just on the oder side of the trail behind some trees.
Some of these geysers are clear blue, or green or white, some of them have “milky” water or even just bubbling mud. They all look different and they all are very fascinating. The colors are created, in part, by thermophiles (heat loving microorganisms). Generally, green and brown indicate organisms living in cooler water, orange and yellow indicate those living in hotter water. Only a few microorganisms thrive in the springs where the temperature is close to boiling, so we you can see the clear, blue water. In these hot springs, the water absorbs all wavelengths of light except blue, which the pool reflects.
The Yellowstone Lake is tremendous, its the largest lake at high elevation in North America, its at 7,733 feet (2,357 Meter), it’s shoreline is 141 miles (227 km) and the summer temperature of the water is 45 Fahrenheit (7 Celsius). We are leaving the shoreline again mid afternoon and drive north through Hayden Valley, a vast open area covered with golden grass on both sides of Yellowstone River – amazing. We were told that there were bear and moose sightings there, but we “only” see bison, but herds of them. They are building up there fat reserves for winter.
Last but not least we take a small detour to the Artist Point from which you can see the colorful canyon of Yellowstone River and the waterfall, which actually has more water than we expected.
Another impressive and beautiful day comes to an end when we watch the sunset a few miles before leaving the park again at around 7pm.
At 7.30pm we meet Lars, a German guy who is traveling all by himself, for dinner at the Wild West Pizzeria then we go back to the Moose Creek Inn, happy but tired!
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