Also during our stay out at Lake, we saw two coyotes. The treat was so brief though, so I didn't get a chance to take a picture. I first thought I was seeing a wolf, because I wasn't used to seeing such large, gray coyotes. The ones in Florida are so small in comparison.
This next photo is of my backyard. No, really. The landscape is so different than what I'm used to. The vegetation is pretty scrubby, with few trees lying in lower elevations (makes for answering nature's call pretty difficult). Many of the trees and plants here consist of lodgepole pine, blue spruce, juniper, and few wildflowers. The area is also largely brown, and surprisingly (for me, at least), many of the areas are still covered in heavy snow. Around Lake, snow drifts as tall as 10 feet or higher were seen all along roadways and within the woods. Everybody here says the snow is taking longer to melt this year. (I'm most likely going to have to snowshoe this next week as we start hiking in backcountry!) Though that is the case, this entire week I've been basking in the sun (no rain) in temperatures around 66 degrees. At night, it gets in the thirties.
I thought this mountain was super cool. You can see all of the water lines, reaching as far as the top of the slope.Opposite this stood Mammoth Hot Springs. To get better views of the area, the NPS installed boardwalks running all alongside of the springs, reaching as far up as 6,600 feet.
So, yesterday and today, I had some time to walk into town and check out these natural wonders. These springs are formed from the upwelling of water from underlying limestone. The water is naturally scalding (I tested it out today) and huge clouds of steam rise as the surrounding air is much cooler. The main chemical compounds that derive from the limestone-hot water mix rise up from the rock, creating calcium carbonate deposits throughout the entire area. The deposits are in the form of travertine, which forms the terraces of the springs. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my all-weather gloves to steal some travertine for the bathroom floor for you, Mom. You'll have to come prepared when you arrive in July. Anyway, what makes the awesome colors of orange, white, green, brown and an amalgam of others that are seen in these creations are these creatures called thermopiles, that live in the rock. They are some of the only creatures that can live in such an environment.
The spring facing the road is Canary Spring.
This next one (above) is the largest of the terraces, named Minerva terrace. The kinds of formations these springs create is absolutely astounding.
This here spring is the Cleopatra terrace. While walking throughout the numerous miles of boardwalks, I couldn't help but notice a smell of sulfur. There was a distinct, fart-like smell pervading my nostrils the entire walking adventure. (Take comfort in that thought, Dad, as it was like you were there right with me.) After reading one of the interpretative boards, I learned that the putrid stench was a result of hydrogen sulfide that was being released.
The picture above is of the town of Mammoth, looking down from one of the many boardwalks. When I was hanging out in front of Minerva Spring, I looked to the right of me and noticed these beauties relaxing on top of a dormant spring. The elk and bison around Mammoth are so acclimated to human activity, that they act fairly comfortable when in close proximity to people.Most of them look pretty ragged right now, as they are shedding their winter coats.
Along the hike home, I saw another sight, reminiscent of my days in Alaska: Elk poo! Looks really similar to moose poo, doesn't it?Remember what I said about dirty, inconsiderate hikers, Mom? See Exhibit A:
Saw some pretty flowers to make up for it, though.
I just had to take this picture.
Another shot of the sunlight hitting the vegetation.
Anyway, that's all for now. I haven't included any photos from my day in Mammoth today, but I will next time. Got to check off a yellow-bellied marmot and ground squirrel from the list!