Friday, August 30, 2013

Nature along Sheepeater's Cliff and the Gardner River Trail

It was hard to take my eyes off the beautiful river views as we hiked this trail.  However, when I did, there were also some beautiful sights to behold!
Thickstem Asters were truly in bloom throughout Yellowstone when we were there!  Here’s another really pretty view of them, with rocks as a backdrop.  Seems like this is another one of those images that is just asking for a quote to be added!
We met up with another marmot, climbing among the rocks from Sheepeater’s Cliff.  He was pretty oblivious to us, just enjoying the morning!
What a perfect pose!  This little butterfly was hovering around these sorts of spent blooms, but landed once with his wings perfectly spread to capture the beautiful pattern of his wings!
And, this is another perfect image of a butterfly!!  I was actually taking photos of the rocks because the texture intrigued me when I noticed this butterfly fluttering about.  When I focused on him, he suddenly landed and struck this pose.  Here’s another image that I think I may need to “play” with to create an art piece!

Walking the Trail at Sheepeater's Cliff and the Gardner River

One morning at Yellowstone, we stopped at the trailhead for this trail, and since it was rated an easy one, decided to try it.  We were accompanied on this trail by the river on one side, and the cliffs on the other.  The further we walked the fewer people we saw.  Altho we only walked about a mile or so total, we did find ourselves alone with all this beauty before very long!
When I said the river was on one side, it truly was right next to us for a good portion of the trail!  Here’s a spot where the water, trees and sky just came together to create a beautiful scene!
Here’s another view a bit further down the river, right before a cascade.  If you look closely, you can see a mountain in the background!
Here’s the view of the river after the cascades.  This was at the point where we turned back, as the trail seemed to get more strenuous.  However, we were definitely alone at this point, and able to enjoy the view in solitude.
And, before I forget, here’s a view of the cliffs that were on the other side of us!  The cliffs were really interesting due to the texture of the cliffs – very different from typical cliffs.

Magical Morning in Yellowstone

One day as we headed out early, an incredible sunrise greeted us.  It was one of the most amazing sunrises I’ve ever seen and I’m sharing it with you…..
This was one of the first images I shot this morning.  I thought it was breathtaking, but had no idea of how much beauty was still in store for us!
How many opportunities does one get for this type of shot?  When the geese started to take wing, Jeff rolled down my window in the Jeep, and I got my camera up and shooting!  It was so unbelievable, I couldn’t believe it.  I think I kept repeating that to Jeff – I couldn’t believe how beautiful this all was!
I think this image looks somewhat like an Impressionist painting.  It’s so pretty and gentle, it somewhat mutes the bright sun that’s just about to peek over the trees.  The sky is also really incredible, as the clouds provide a texture to the sky.
I could go on and on with images, but I’ll end with this one.  The absolute calm and peacefulness of the morning is summed up with this image.  The sun, the trees on the far shore and the vegetation on the near shore all add some texture and a great feel to this image.

Bison on a Misty Morn

There will be more bison photos in a subsequent blog, but I wanted to include these images from a magical morning one day as we headed out to see more of Yellowstone.  It was an incredible morning, not one that I’ve seen that often…

Here’s a bison (buffalo) grazing, totally oblivious to the beautiful sunrise behind it!  The over-riding feeling of this morning was one of a peaceful way to start the day.

Here is more of the herd grazing in the morning.  The misty sunrise adds such a gentle touch to these beasts that seem to be anything but!

This image is a great profile of a bison as the herd seems to be heading toward the sun.  And, the sun thru the mist takes on a surreal glow.

I really like this last image – the sunrise, the bison and the mist moving across the water behind them.  What a great way to start the day.

Mammoth Hot Springs

I’m not certain, but I think that this area was perhaps one of the first developed in Yellowstone.  It is one that is open year ‘round, and is the first place you come to when you enter Yellowstone from the north.  This is a huge hot springs area, altho some of the springs seem to have sprung, if you catch my drift, so all that’s left in those areas is a sort of prehistoric looking landscape.  You’ll see…..
It’s very hard to see from photos, but the more colorful part of this image is where the hot springs are actually flowing down, as a sort of boiling, steaming waterfall.  It’s a rather surreal sight, but is how these hot springs came to be formed.  The sentiments just sort of built up on top of each other until you have this enormous collection of hot springs.
This gives you a better idea of what I meant by some of the springs having sprung.  The foreground of this image is of just that type of area, completely dry (at least now), with mineral deposits left over that reminded me of salt, altho I don’t think that’s what it was.  I’m not certain if this spring is completely dead, or just “resting”, tho!  In the background, you can see a spring that’s actually looking more like a little geyser – in any event, definitely very active.
The springs are so large, there’s actually an auto driving “path” to follow to drive up among the hot springs that make up Mammoth.  This is one hot spring that was actually flowing steaming water, altho you can’t really see it from the photo.  The color seems to be the giveaway.  If there’s color, the water (and oxides) are flowing, creating color!

Driving the Upper Loop at Yellowstone

One day while in Yellowstone, we drove the Upper Loop all the way up to Mammoth Hot Springs.  There were a number of interesting sights to see – take a look!
Yes, road work even in Yellowstone!  There’s nothing truly artistic about this shot – it was just the enormity of the rock face that made me take this shot!
As we drove up Chittenden Road (a little side trip), there were a number of flowers blooming.  I was especially taken with the beautiful, huge, dandelion head that was there, completely intact!!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen one this pretty before!
One of the other pretty sights along the road was this lovely waterfall, called Undine Falls.  I don’t know why, but I never really thought about Yellowstone having so many waterfalls!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mud Volcanoes!

On the way back from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, we stopped at the area where there were mud volcanoes.  I have to admit, this sounded like it could be rather messy – I mean, what happened if the “volcano” erupted – an unexpected mud shower?  LOL!  It wasn’t anything like that, and actually quite interesting. Have a look –

So a mud volcano, or at least what we saw, weren’t volcanoes in the traditional sense of the word.  They are more like bubbling pots of mud.  Still rather cool looking!
One of the side benefits from the mud volcano area was the moody, misty effect in the trees.  I don’t know how many folks in the area really noticed this, however.  Everyone was looking at the bubbling mud!  All they had to do was look up!

When the mud isn’t bubbling, there was actually some pretty color in the area, and this photo proves that point!  I always love seeing something different from the norm in places.

This image (and mud volcano) appealed to me because there was some color around it, and it had a sort of interesting “feel” to it.  The bubbling created a sort of echo sound coming from the cave – a little spooky!  All in all, a fun stop along the road in Yellowstone!

Beautiful Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

One day while in Yellowstone, we visited the area called the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  It was one of the most breathtaking views I’ve seen here – take a look!

This view is of the Lower Falls is breathtaking and almost feels like a painting, doesn’t it?  In a way, it almost seems too perfect!  This view was shot from an area called Artist Point – and I can see how it got that name!

Another stop along the “Grand Canyon” was at the brink of the Lower Falls.  I loved watching the water just sort of race down toward the falls, and had to stop to capture this view!

And, here’s the view of the Lower Falls just as the water is rushing over the edge of the falls.  Kind of dizzy looking, isn’t it?  I really like that I was able to capture the bottom of the falls!

And, finally, here’s a view of the Upper Falls.  Again, this is almost like an oil painting or something!  It’s such a glorious and beautiful view.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Old Faithful, other Geysers and Springs

One of the “must see” places in Yellowstone is, of course, Old Faithful.  We did stop and see it erupt (is that the word for what geysers do?), and we also walked along a nearby trail to see the other geysers and springs located in the immediate Old Faithful area. Take a look –

Here is an iconic shot of the geyser that Yellowstone is famous for.  I was very lucky on this day because when Old Faithful erupted, there was one cloud overhead and as Old Faithful grew in size, I noticed that the cloud began to look like it was part of the geyser!  It isn’t, but this shot looks somewhat like Old Faithful has produced a mushroom cloud!

Isn’t this a cool shot?  I just love it!  The colors are absolutely real – meaning not enhanced by me at all!  You are probably asking what this is – well, it’s a form of bacteria, based on the signs in the immediate area.  I know, sounds kind of yucky, but this does look really cool!  Of course, it’s sitting in some incredibly HOT spring water, so you can’t reach it and touch it  to see how it feels…….not that I would do that with strange bacteria…..

One of the things I love about the springs (and about having a polarizing filter on my lens) is that the water is so clear, you can look into them and really see the depth for oneself!  This also doesn’t really look like it has any water in it, but trust me, it does!  And, it was steaming quite a bit!!

One of the things that really struck me here was that the geysers and springs were surrounded by green grassy meadows.  This image really captured that.  It looks sort of surreal to see all the colors of the oxide in the springs and geysers as they meet up in this sort of stream, with green grass just beyond them.

This image is taken in an area that isn’t technical part of the Old Faithful area, I did include it in this posting because it is a cool collection of springs.  It’s called Artist Paintpots, and I think if one saw it from the overlook above, one could really see all the striking colors.  We did not climb to the top to the overlook, but I think we got a nice idea of how pretty it looked from higher up.

Flowers Along Storm Trail

Storm trail was recommended to us as a trail with a good number of wildflowers, even so late in the season.  These are not all the flowers that we saw, but just some of my favorite images.

This delicate purple-blue flower is called a Pacific Aster.  They look like such a happy flower and this image just looks like it would be perfect for an appropriate quote!

The flowers in this image are Thickstem Asters.  I really liked the way the morning sun just played over the tops of these flowers, sort of teasing them with its warmth.

This yellow flower is one of my favorites, altho I never knew its name until I picked up a book on wildflowers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.  It’s called a Snow Cinquefoil, and I was lucky enough to be able to capture it in profile – of course, I had to practically lie on the ground to do it!

I found this to be really interesting. I couldn’t believe the color of these “flowers” and had to take several shots of them. They make the photo look like it’s some sort of study in tones of grey.  However, then I realized (at the same time Jeff commented) that these were pinecones that have sort of fallen into themselves!  I really thought they were flowers!!

I had never seen this flower before in my life, but I really like it.  It’s called an Elk Thistle, and part of what I love about it is amount of color this bloom does really have, and how much it looks just like a weed!  I was just fascinated by this flower and had to share it!

Storm Trail at Sunrise

One of the first days we were at Yellowstone, we hiked Storm Trail.  A ranger had told me that there were some nice wildflowers there, and there were (more on them later!)!  It was really peaceful on the trail, too.  We were there at sunrise, and we had the trail all to ourselves!  We only saw another group of hikers when we were just about back to our car.  Great!  And, there were also some great nature and landscape shots to be had.  Take a look –

The trail wound around a little point of land that jutted out into Yellowstone Lake.  This first image is of some ducks that were heading out for a morning swim.  I loved the peaceful feeling of this.  The sun was just starting to make it presence known, with some gentle rays.

Here’s another image of the sun’s rays just rising up into the sky.  We were a bit higher on the trail, so we got a nice view of part of the shoreline.  Even tho I got some lens flare from the sun (the circles and streaks of light), I felt like it sort of added to the image as it felt like the sun was beginning to rain down on us!

Well, isn’t this a handsome guy?  Jeff saw him with his binoculars from a ways back, and I started snapping photos of him.  He stayed on that rock until we were just underneath him.  This image is my favorite, as it seems like he’s posing for me, and giving me his “best side”!  What a little ham!

We went down to the shoreline at one point to check out a little geyser, and noticed these paw prints along the shore.  Jeff thought they were wolf prints.  If so, that was the closest we got to seeing a wolf in Yellowstone!  I just liked the feeling they created on the shore – a solitary explorer, if you will.
Here’s that tiny baby geyser – or maybe a geyser to be.  Right now, this is just a steam vent.  I thought it was rather picturesque next to all those lovely stones in the water on the shore.  Of course, if one thinks about it much, this could be rather disconcerting – after all, Yellowstone Park is in the center of a giant volcanic caldera, and the volcano is overdue to erupt.  Yikes!  I sort of figured oh, well – if I’m meant to go now, at least I spent my last days in a beautiful spot! 


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Waterfalls and Cascades along the Lower Loop at Yellowstone

Along the drive of the lower loop in Yellowstone, we happened across three different waterfalls – well, actually, two waterfalls and a cascade.  The difference that I could see between a waterfall and a cascade is that a waterfall tends to fall all in one long fall, whereas a cascade seems to follow a number of “step downs”.  Whatever they are called, they are all lovely!

To see Firehole Falls, there is a narrow 2-mile long drive off the main loop drive.  This image is the first image that you see and it’s actually not the falls, but the rushing Firehole River after it goes down the falls.  I slowed down the shutter speed to create more of an effect of the rushing of the water.

Here’s an image of the actual falls.  It is really quite pretty, and I took many images!  This one, however, seems to show off the falls at its best.

Next on our drive, we came to the Gibbon Falls, which were right alongside the main loop drive.  I thought it looked so lovely just sort of nestled in the trees. 

This last image is at the brink of the Virginia Cascades.  I have to admit, I couldn’t really get a good shot of it from the vantage point they allow one to be at!  So, I just decided to focus on one area and liked the feel of the water as it began its downward flow.

Colors at Black Sand Basin

One of our first explorations took us to Black Sand Basin, near Old Faithful.  We were doing an overall drive around the lower loop of Yellowstone, and decided to avoid the “major” sites and focus on some of the smaller ones.  It was the height of the day, and we thought we could avoid the crowds with this approach.  Happy to say – it generally worked!  Anyway, the colors of the geysers at Black Sand Basin were really beautiful.  Take a look –

I liked this geyser because it was very accommodating in terms of “erupting” frequently.  It’s called Spouter Geyser and I guess it lives up to its name!  I did like the lovely blue color, altho the smell of the sulpher left something to be desired (smells like rotten eggs)!

The above image is of a spring (not geyser) called Green Spring.  I’m not sure why it has that name, because the color was once again that gorgeous blue color.  I also like the fact that you can see that this basin is nestled right into the woods!

Aren’t the colors in this image great?  This is Rainbow Pool, and it certainly lives up to its name.  I just love the way the colors sort of run into each other, yet there’s no real blending of any sort.

This image strikes me because it shows the colors of the oxide in the foreground from other geysers flowing down to the river, which looks very inviting, but I think I’ll pass on actually taking a dip!  The steaming pool in the background is Green Spring.  The other thing I love about this image is that it looks so bright and bold one could think I played around with it, but I didn’t!  This is the way the colors actually look!

In this last image from this area, we’re looking at the river that flows thru the basin from the opposite perspective than in previous images.  I really like the way the moss or seaweed or whatever it is seems to point at Spouter Geyser, off in the background.  Again, the colors are really magnificent.