Last post I told you how we arrived at Indian Creek Campground mid-afternoon and snagged the last site. What I didn’t tell you was that this was our first pull-thru site ever. At first, it felt like cheating- what no backing? But then we realized that if we pulled in following the direction of the one-way campground road our door would be facing the wrong way (toward the road instead of into where our actual site was). Luckily we were right on the edge of the loop so we drove forward, turned around and pulled in the wrong way so our door was now facing in. Easy enough, except that even using all our leveling blocks we were still severely slanted side to side. Guess that’s why it was the last site. No biggie since we were only staying one night, but the downhill side was on the head side of the bed so sleeping was kind of funny. We didn’t take any pictures of the campground, but it was a pretty typical no-frills national park campground with lots of tenters among the trees and all the RV’s around the edges in pull-thru spots. We toured the campground on foot and took Phin for a walk down tothe river where he splashed around for a bit.
Our wildlife sighting for the evening was a yellow bellied marmot. No camera with us, so no pictures, but it basically looks like a ground hog with a yellow belly. After dinner, we drove the short distance down to the Mammoth Hot Springs area. Wow! I’m not even sure how to describe this feat of nature except to say that we were both blown away by this rocky wonderland.
At first, it looks like ice, like a great sheet of ice has crept in and covered the land. Except that there’s a hot steam radiating out of the earth and a foul smell permeating the air. What you’re actually seeing is cooled and deposited calcium carbonate that has seeped out of the earth from the hot springs below over thousands of years.
Here’s a closer shot where you can see the hot steam rising out of the top of the falls.
This area is in a constant state of flux. Sometimes the view changes from day to day. The next photo shows an area of uncooled hot water seeping up through the travertine rocks. As you walked along the boardwalk you could feel the intense heat flowing from the ground.
In some spots, the calcium carbonate had built up in huge mounds that protruded from the earth like giant humps of soil.
After touring the upper loop of Mammoth Springs the sun was pretty low in the sky so we headed back to the campground for the night. The next morning we packed up and headed out early to hike to the top of the 8, 527 ft Bunsen Peak. Before you go getting all impressed I should admit that where we started from was ~7,200 feet so it was actually a relatively short hike. Only a little more than 4 miles round trip and the trail was composed of series of switchbacks which made the climb pretty easy and not very steep. The air was especially smoky that morning, so the mountain view was a bit obscured but no less breathtaking.
Here’s one of our classic self photos from the top.
The top third of the trail was jagged loose rocks that made an interesting tinkling noise as you walked across them.
There was evidence of a forest fire on the mountain and as a result, we saw lots of tall dead trees standing among young evergreens trying to regenerate the forest.
There’s something about dead trees that I just find fascinating. This one looks like it’s straight out of a horror film.
This was my favorite. A tall tree with a twisty trunk and branches that soared up into the sky.
At one of the switchbacks, the trail opened up to a sheer rock cliff poking out of the side of the mountain.
Near the bottom of the trail, you could see a view of the curvy road below.
After the hike, we headed down the Mammoth Springs village where we enjoyed a strong data signal and some lunch. Phineas loves his truck so much that sometimes when we stop he doesn’t want to get out. This time we let him stay since the temps were only in the mid-60s and we weren’t planning on being there very long.
The last photo I took in Yellowstone was of the post office. I couldn’t resist. I mean when else are you going to see a post office with bear statues in front?
After lunch, we headed north about 50 miles to Livingston Montana. We’re staying at a small private campground on the Yellowstone river. We plan to stay a few more nights while Tim catches up on work and I get some stuff done around the house. Right now I’m at the laundromat using their free WiFi. Tomorrow we will go explore Bozeman (only ~20 miles away) and then move as we head north west in the direction of Glacier National Park.