Saturday, July 12, 2008

Trail Journal: Norris & Back Geyser Basins

Trail: Norris Geyser Basin & Back Basin
Date hiked: July 6, 2008
Distance: 2.0 miles
Elevation gain: negligible
Time: 1.5 hours

Geysers are awesome. Except for the part where you get boiled to death and all of your skin falls off (true story), but I made sure not to let that happen to me. Also, if your off-leash dog decides to jump into a hot spring, don't jump in after it (also a true story, courtesy of Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park. Fun reading.)

If you are not familiar with Yellowstone geology, there are all these steam vents, geysers, and other hot things because the park contains a giant caldera, basically an upside-down volcano. (Mom, don't worry. The last eruption was 640,000 years ago. But of course in your mind that means we're about due for another one.)

The most amazing thing about these thermal features are the colors. My favorite is the Pearl Geyser:

The the collage above, you can also see a colorful pool, and some bright green algae that has grown in a flowing stream.

There are also very loud steam vents, that sound very much like a steam-powered train.

Much of the water here is also sulfuric - you can smell the rotten egg smell wafting out of the ponds. The heat, combined with the acidity has killed any nearby trees.

And finally, this area features the most hilarious warning sign I've ever seen:

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