The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

This week Friday Fotos is a final photo tribute to Yellowstone.

Mammoth Hot Springs

One of my favorite places in Yellowstone, one that I remembered from childhood trips and looked forward to showing Cora is Mammoth Hot Springs. Located on a limestone hill, Mammoth is a complex of terraces made up of crystalized calcium carbonate deposited by hot water bubbling up from Yellowstone Park’s vast underground plumbing system.

It’s been described as a cave turned inside out. I describe it as a scene from some unknown planet.  It’s a beautiful surreal place where steam rises from terraces colored in white, gray, tan, charcoal and cream.

Mammoth 4 - Copy

Mammoth 6 - Copy

Steam creates a haze over the otherworldly terraces of Mammoth.

Mammoth 3 - Copy

Mammoth 2 - Copy

Mammoth 1

The top of a dead tree peeking above the Mammoth flow is testament to the hot springs’ hostile environment.

Norris Geyser Basin

The Norris Geyser Basin is one of the hottest and most toxic of Yellowstone Park’s many thermal areas.  Norris sits at a temperature that tops 200 degrees F. (93.33 C.) and a highly acidic low pH level of around 2.  To me one of the more fascinating sites at Norris is the stand of dead trees surrounding Cistern Spring.

Dead trees Cistern Spring Norris geyser basin

Dead trees Cistern Spring Norris geyser basin2

Below, a monochrome edit of the photo above could be a scene out of World War I. 

Dead trees Cistern Spring Mono



Dead stump

The remnants of trees that succumbed to Yellowstone Park’s deadly waters.

Excelsior Geyser at Midway Geyser Basin

What looks like a waterfall is actually a flow of water from the crater of the now dormant Excelsior geyser at the Midway Geyser Basin, a place which Rudyard Kipling once described as “Hell’s Half Acre.” The crater measures out at 276 x 328 feet and dumps 199 degree (F) water into the Firehole River at a rate of 4000 gallons per minute.  During it’s active period in the 19th century Excelsior’s spectacular eruptions would reach a a height of 300 feet. In 1985, Excelsior erupted to a height of 55 feet, an eruption that lasted for two days. It last erupted in 1988.

Excelsior Geyser Firehole River 1 copy

Above and below, views of the boiling waters of Excelsior geyser dumping into the Firehole River. The brilliant colors are thermophiles, microbe communities which thrive in the hostile environment of Yellowstone Park’s thermal areas. Standing on the opposing bank you hear the roar of steam and rushing water. 

Firehole 2

As we left Yellowstone from the east, headed for Cody, Wyoming I felt a profound sadness. I could visit any major city in the world, be enchanted for a bit and then stick it into the far regions of memory. Yellowstone for me is different. It’s a place of childhood memories, of fishing the Yellowstone River, of picnics interrupted by bears and of introducing my wife to a natural wonder; a place that I might never visit again.


20 thoughts on “Friday Fotos – Yellowstone. Parting Shots

  1. Amy says:

    Mammoth Hot Springs is very much like from some unknown planet. The scene of 199 degree (F) water into the Firehole River at a rate of 4000 gallons per minute is a scary scenery. I hope I’ll get some shots when we visit there.
    Thank you for this fantastic tour via your lens, Paulie!

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you Amy. I’ve no doubt that you’ll get many shots when you visit. It’s like a candy store for photographers. I would suggest taking another try at a long lens like a 600mm. I would even consider getting an extender to go along with it.

      1. Amy says:

        Thank you for your advice and suggestion. Currently, I have a 300 mm. I saw Tamron 600 mm on Amazon which is about 4.3 lbs. It’s lighter than the Sigma 150-600, which is 6 lbs.

        1. Paulie says:

          The Tamron I have is 150-600. I’m certain you could find something available for rent if you want to try before you buy.

          1. Amy says:

            That’s a cool idea, Paulie. I just don’t think I can carry the heavy camera plus 6 lbs lens when I travel. Thank you!

  2. Wonderful pictures! I haven’t been in Yellowstone park, but this series certainly encourages me to go visit.

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you for the compliment. As I told another commenter, Amy, it is a candy store for photographers. It deserves any lens from macro to super telephoto.

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    Fascinating place – no wonder Yellowstone is our most popular park. I cannot imagine a boiling river! Kind of scary. Do you know if any animals accidentally (I’m thinking waterfowl particularly) land in it? Are these flows on the move as they aggregate minerals flowing around and killing trees?

  4. Paulie says:

    Hello Eliza, I imagine that once the water from Excelsior hits the river it cools considerably. There actually is a section of the river that is open to swimming. As to animals landing in thermal areas, yes that has happened – including people who wander from designated paths. Bison often meander onto the crust of a thermal area to keep warm in winter and do fall in.

  5. floweringink says:

    It’s like these photos are from another world. Your pictures always take my breath away!!!

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you as always. The blog is going to evolve a bit. I’m going to be drifting into some narratives and personal stories. I hope that you enjoy those as much. Who knows, maybe “evolve” is optimistic.

      1. floweringink says:

        I know I will love whatever you write!!! I look forward to reading!!!

  6. Great pics!!!

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you so much Luisa.

  7. Leah J Smith says:

    Love this place. Enjoyed reading

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you so much Leah.

  8. Tina Schell says:

    Like you I remember Yellowstone vividly. It is indeed an otherworldly vision that stays with you for a lifetime. it’s been many years since I was there but I can see it still if I close my eye. Thank you for the beautiful reminder – your photos are stunning

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you very much Tina, for the kind words and for visiting my site.

Would love to hear from you

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