Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Yellowstone National Park


I continued westward. The road wrapped around the mountains.
And, the mountains wrapped around the valleys.
I ended up in the town of Cody, Wyoming. 

The town of Cody was named after William Frederick Cody - better known as Buffalo Bill. In the center of town there was a cultural center called the Buffalo Bill Center of the West which was dedicated to the history and lifestyle of cowboys. Unfortunately, there was a special event happening inside the center, so I was not able to see the museum and displays. However, I remember learning about Buffalo Bill when I was a kid. 
William Frederick Cody "Buffalo Bill" was an American scout, bison hunter, and showman. 

He started working at the age of eleven, after his father's death, and became a rider for the Pony Express at age 14. During the American Civil War, he served the Union from 1863 to the end of the war in 1865. Later he served as a civilian scout for the US Army during the Indian Wars. He received the Medal of Honor in 1872.

One of the most well known figures of the Wild West, he started performing in shows with themes from the frontier, Indian Wars and cowboy lifestyle. He founded Buffalo Bill's Wild West in 1883, taking his large company on tours in the United States and, beginning in 1887, in Great Britain and Europe.
Down the street from the Buffalo Bill Center there was this store - Sierra Trading Post. For years I've bought outdoor and sport equipment from their online store. They offer great deals on both new and overstocked items. I could not resist the temptation to check out what they had in stock. I ended up walking away with some Leki trekking poles for about $50.
I was planning to stay in Yellowstone for a few days, so I picked up some food supplies and stayed overnight in Cody. Not every place that I stayed at during my trip had a great view. Outside the box.
The next morning I got an early start because I wanted to make the most of my time in Yellowstone National Park.
Upon entering the park, I was given a map that highlighted various points of interest. I decided that on my first day in the park I would try to drive around the two loops to see as many of the points of interest as possible.
There were a number of rivers that cut through the park
One big lake called Yellowstone Lake.
One of the points of interest was a bridge called Fishing Bridge. When I stopped to take a look, there were a number of signs posted that read "No Fishing". Evidently, at one time this was a very popular bridge from which to fish. But it was also a breeding area for the natural cutthroat trout. When the populations of cutthroat trout started to decline due to overfishing, the park outlawed fishing in this area. I peered over the bridge and spotted a fair number of two foot long trout. 
I continued driving around the park and came upon the West Thumb Geyser Basin.
There were some amazingly beautiful hot springs.
The water looked so clear and clean, but due to the high temperatures it was not safe to swim in nor walk near these hot springs. Earlier in the summer a tourist tried to take a selfie near one of these hot springs, feel in and died. 
The minerals that the water transported to the surface painted the ground in hues of pastel earth tones.
While driving across Yellowstone Park, I crossed over the Continental Divide. The Continental Divide is the principal, and largely mountainous, hydrological divide of the Americas. It extends from the Bering Strait to the Strait of Magellan, and separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain into the Atlantic Ocean. 
One of the most famous and popular attractions in Yellowstone is of course the geyser called Old Faithful. I had to check it out.
There was a center built near the geyser with plenty of informational signs about the history, geology and plumbing of Old Faithful.
Old Faithful is a cone geyser.
It was named in 1870 during the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition and was the first geyser in the park to receive a name.
It is a highly predictable geothermal feature; since 2000, it has erupted every 44 to 125 minutes. More than 1,000,000 eruptions have been recorded. Harry Woodward first described a mathematical relationship between the duration and intervals of the eruptions in 1938. The reliability of Old Faithful can be attributed to the fact that it is not connected to any other thermal features of the Upper Geyser Basin.
Eruptions can shoot 3,700 to 8,400 US gallons of boiling water to a height of 106 to 185 feet lasting from  1 1⁄2 to 5 minutes. The average height of an eruption is 145 feet. Intervals between eruptions can range from 35 to 120 minutes, averaging 66.5 minutes in 1939, slowly increasing to an average of 90 minutes apart today, which may be the result of earthquakes affecting subterranean water levels. The disruptions have made earlier mathematical relationships inaccurate, but have actually made Old Faithful more predictable in terms of its next eruption.
The time between eruptions has a bimodal distribution, with the mean interval being either 65 or 91 minutes, and is dependent on the length of the prior eruption. Within a margin of error of ±10 minutes, Old Faithful will erupt either 65 minutes after an eruption lasting less than  2 1⁄2 minutes, or 91 minutes after an eruption lasting more than  2 1⁄2 minutes.
I went inside one of the visitor centers and was amazed at the educational and informational displays. They certainly covered every geographical and geological formation thoroughly. 
Water
Earth
Air
Fire
The Mammoth Hot Springs are a surface expression of the deep volcanic forces at work in Yellowstone. Although these springs lie outside the caldera boundary, scientists believe that the heat from the hot springs comes from the same magmatic system that fuels other Yellowstone thermal areas. Travertine terraces are formed from limestone. Thermal water rises through the limestone, carrying high amounts of the dissolved limestone (calcium carbonate). At the surface, carbon dioxide is released and calcium carbonate is deposited, forming travertine, the chalky white mineral forming the rock of travertine terraces. The formations resemble a cave turned inside out. Colorful stripes are formed by thermophiles, or heat-loving organisms.
At the Mammoth Hot Spring Visitor Center there were ample opportunities to see wild elk walking lounging around the grounds. 
I was fortunate to find a campsite at the Norris Campgrounds. After setting up camp, I attended a talk given by one of the Rangers about the local flora and fauna. The talk was okay, but there was some excitement during the talk when a small feline passed through the forrest directly behind the Ranger. It was probably a bobcat or lynx. Nobody really got a good look at the cat because it appeared then disappeared within a blink of an eye.
When visiting national parks without a camping reservation, I either show up early in the morning before 8am or late in the evening after to 5pm. In the morning, the camp host reallocates camping spots and any open spots are offered on a first come first served basis. In the evening, if any guests do not claim their camping spot the camp hosts will sometimes allow others campers to take over the vacant spots. I was able to take over the last remaining backpacker campsite.
I must say that it was probably the best campsite in the entire campground, as it was located at the end of the a walkway and next to a beautiful stream. It was a long day. I took a soothing bath in the stream under the cover of night with just a twinkle of light from the stars.
Camping in a hammock in the wilderness is one of life's most precious experiences.
The next day I drove around the park in search of rivers. I located one river called the Virginia Cascade. To get to the river I had to traverse a number of fallen and stacked trees. 
I wanted to test out my Keiryu fishing tackle. Keiryu fishing is a style of fishing similar to Tenkara fishing. The tackle consists of a simple carbon fiber telescoping pole, level monofilament fishing line, tippet and a single reverse hackle fly.
I found the Keiyru setup worked great for the small streams with heavy brush and tree cover.
I caught a number of these small brown trout over the two days that I spent fishing around Yellowstone. I think that the largest trout that I caught was maybe 12 inches and less than 1 pound. Still I had a great time seeking out and catching these little trout. Life is good.




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