Sunday, June 7, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

So uh, despite the odd Christmas-themed blog title, it really does relate to just another day in June at Yellowstone NP. It indeed is snowing. Or rather, it snowed yesterday and all this morning. SNOW IN JUNE?!?! Seriously? Pretty frickin awesome. Kate yesterday noted that we were all acting like little kids again...Hilary was making snow angels, and the rest of us were sticking our tongues out in the attempt to taste snowflakes. But the thing is, I didn't actually grow up with such instances. I guess I am just...a kid, then? As we were driving from Old Faithful back home to Mammoth last night (a beautiful two-hour drive), all of the girls in the car were getting a kick out of me constantly saying, "everything is white!" I was maniacally taking pictures inside and outside the car...I think I even received a couple of strange stares.
Anyway, I have a TON of pictures to put in this post, so I am going to narrate along with pictures, rather than bore you with long, laborious introductory paragraphs that you probably don't read anyway. I admit it, pictures are more fun.
So, approximately two weeks ago, Kate was kind enough to indulge me in being a tourist. En route to Cody, Wyoming, we stopped off at the GRAND CANYON OF THE YELLOWSTONE and were awed by such splendor. I must say, after spending 3 weeks at Yellowstone, I think I want to have a change of career (aka major) and become a geologist. The rock formations are out of this world. Jagged peaks, unstable precipices, and thrashing, unruly water make up this incredible sight. It's amazing to think that water ultimately creates such wonders.
Photo of Yellowstone Lake, just after the Spring thaw. The first week I was here, the entire lake was frozen. Now it's one large mass of cold, fluid water.This photo is taken from the Buffalo Bill Scenic Highway heading towards Cody. This area is about 2,000 feet higher than Mammoth and was still largely caked in snow. It was an incredible drive.
Tunnel!! We went through many of these on our way to Cody. So awesome. I think the only other places where I've driven through mountains were in Tennessee. Like I said, crazy rocks. Kate and I (vicariously) both thought we were in the Southwest on our drive. The rocks were colored these stunning reds and oranges resplendent of a Utah or Arizonian desert.Took this inside the Buffalo Bill Museum. This poster, along with thousands of other relics, overwhelmed the walls of the museum. Buffalo Bill truly created the cowboy image and lifestyle of buckin' broncos and oversized Steston hats we (ahem, Dad) revere today.

Remind you of Arizona? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Photo of Bear tooth mountain...I'm convinced your powers of deduction will enlighten you as to why it has such a name. Took this inside the car on the drive back to Mammoth...what a drive!Saw this little critter in the parking lot of the hotel we stayed in while in Cody. Jackrabbits are everywhere! I think Kate thinks I have an obsession. I somehow feel the need to point out a rabbit whenever I see one by indicating such with a a loud, "bunny!"Back in Yellowstone. Home, home on the range comes to mind when I see this photo. The buffalo were conveniently situated in an idyllic setting of a hilly backdrop with thunderous clouds looming in the background. I just had to take a picture.This is appropriately coined a "bison jam." Bison jam: when bison nonchalantly stroll across a road, seemingly unaware and/or unconcerned with the growing pileup of cars and overly exited tourists just itching for a National Geographic-type photo.I see these little guys everywhere. This is a ground squirrel. He was hoping for a treat, but sadly, he was not satisfied.Ok, so the next string of photos (with above photos included) are just a smattering of snapshots of wildlife I've taken while driving throughout the park. Some of them I've seen in hikes, but a large majority are straight from the car. The reliability and frequency of wildlife viewing here is absolutely incredible. The photo below is of a chipmunk. They too are everywhere. These are two bighorn ewes that usually hang out on some cliffs that lie very close to the North entrance of the park. They had some babies with them, but unfortunately, my camera just couldn't get close enough. This photo is provided for you courtesy of Kate Olsen. If you look closely, you can see the fairly developed horns of the ram in the middle.
Here's a bull elk grazing, with its antlers just starting to grow. He and another bull caused quite a jam.Mule deer! Their ears are so funny. Along the drive to Gardiner and Livingston, Montana, mule deer are everywhere. They are often seen grazing on some rancher's property.Very pregnant pronghorn does resting on a hillside. Closeby we saw a mother and her fawn, but they were too quick for me to get a picture. It's freaking baby season! They are soooo cute. Copious girl noises would erupt from the car every time we saw a baby elk, pronghorn, bison, or deer. Male pronghorn grazing. Fun fact about pronghorn: they are the fastest land mammal in North America, and the second fastest in the world, only beaten by the cheetah.This is taken on the Beaver Ponds Loop hike (approx. 5 mi) we did two weekends ago. Hilary is on the left, and Kate is on the right. Hilary worked in fisheries last year, but now works for Ted Turner on one of his ranches in Bozeman. She was down in Mammoth for the Cody and hiking adventure weekend. More mule deer, seen on the Beaver Ponds hike. We also saw some white-tailed deer, but I didn't get any photos that were clear enough. They were all in hiding in the woods.
One of the larger ponds we saw during our hike. And no, unfortunately, we didn't see any beavers (lots of dams, though). We did see, however, a yellow-headed blackbird. Youtube their call. It's the most awesome bird call I've ever heard.It was such a beautiful day.

This is a view of the Gallatin mountain range that surrounds Gardiner and Livingston seen from our hike. I loved the shadows of the clouds over the hills and mountain tops. This is from the Monument Geyser Basin hike I did with some people that I live with in the dorm. I think it gained 600 feet of elevation in just over a mile. It was pretty grueling, but the view made it all worth the effort. Oh, I can't forget to tell you this: en route to the vista point, we got hailed on. No kidding. This is a steam vent, also known as a fumarole. The sound of air and gases hissing from these things is amazing. I wish I had a video of all of the hissing and gurgling noises that emit from these geysers.View of some of the monument geyser basin area. Again, I was inundated with horrible, sulfuric smells that burned by nose...but I sacrificed comfort for the gorgeous view in front of me.

I might have let one go. But then again, who could tell?

View of the mountains on the drive back. I swear to you, it really does seem like the sky here is bigger. I wonder if they call it Big Sky country here. Every day, the clouds are unreal. If you look to the bottom of the picture, you can see the strokes of rain coming down on the far off mountains. Saw this grizz just 10 feet in front of me (see car). I first saw him behind a tree about 15 yards from the road. He was just meandering down to the road, taking his sweet old time when he seemed to suddenly notice there were about 20 cars around him. It was like he looked up and went, "Oh!" and then high-tailed it across the road and down the hillside, about 200 yards away.

Anyway, I have more photos to post, but my fingers are growing weary from all of the scrolling down so I will start another entry with more adventures to follow.


HHW said...

it dosent even really look like we are in the same state. pretty jelous. i might get to head of your way. A supervisor might lend me a truck so if thats the case ill let you know.

The King said...

Received your postcard today of Yellowstone's Lower Falls, where you'd visited and photographed and included in this entry ... capturing the absolute magnificence of the hues and "sculpted yellow walls and pinnacles" of the canyon, through which the Yellowstone River rages.


The photographs and the accompanying narrative are truly spell-binding and an absolute joy to behold.

After an initial settling-in period, you seem to be having another great adventure and are feverishly conjuring-up images, that have us all in awe and wonder.

What a great way to spend a summer, forging friendships and enjoying experiences that no doubt will be indelibly etched in your heart and soul forever.


You are so lucky Emily ... but luck falls to those who work hard and are creative and you have those commodities in abundance.

Keep it up!

Love you,

Dad X

Julia said...

looks pretty great emily! Send me your mailing address, i thought i had it but i don't.