Monday, August 11, 2008


This weekend I finally visited the Mammoth area, at the north entrance to the park. This is the only major area I had not yet seen, so now I have been to every major area in the park. Whoo hoo! It was bright and sunny when we left our house, but by the time we got to Mammoth, the clouds had rolled in and it started to rain. The river had turned muddy, but the scenery was still colorful.

Our main goal in traveling to this area was to visit the Boiling River, where runoff from a hot spring mixes with the colder water of the river. You can sit in the water and soak up the warmth. Sounds cool, huh? Well, the first thing you see is this sign, warning you that an amoeba might swim up your nose. (Despite the alarming nature of the sign, no one has ever gotten sick by bathing in the water.)

The area you can soak in is pretty small, and there are a lot of people there, even though the area isn't on maps and the parking lot is unmarked. The current is very strong, and I was afraid I would be washed downriver as I made my way towards the warm water.

Instead of the water mixing together, it is both scalding and freezing. You sit on the river bottom, and are hit by a stream of boiling water; then you scream and shift quickly, where you are hit by extremely cold water. So instead of being a relaxing soak, you are uncomfortable in 2 different ways. Also, there was a French family sitting next to us with no concept of personal space. We didn't last long. Of course, to get back to the shore you have to wade against an extremely strong current of freezing water. It had been raining, so our clothes and towel were soaked when we got back. Brrrr. Then, there was the .5 mile walk back to the car in wet pants. Not so fun.

The north entrance is marked by the most famous entranceway in all the national parks. (Notice that the sun had come out by this point... thanks.) It was difficult to take a picture of the arch because people kept parking their cars in front of it.

On our drive back to the house was probably the most enjoyable part of the day; not only because of the prospect of warmth, but also because a mist had settled in the valleys and created a very spooky, moody atmosphere. The whole scene was very pretty, and at times like those its easy to appreciate the awesomeness of the park.

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