July 9th ~ Mammoth Hot Springs
Yesterday was our transitioning day where we moved from centrally located Norris Campground, up to the north-west corner of the park, Mammoth Hot Springs. The in-park campground which is just a mile north of the visitor’s center had a place for us and we quickly got settled in.
WE HAVE INTERNET AGAIN!!!
OK, seriously, I was like a kid in a candy store. After being in a cellular vacuum for three days, it was wonderful being able to get back online. I wrote three blog posts which I could get scheduled before coming up for air.
An evening meal at the Mammoth Hot Springs Restaurant brought closure to our day, and I blissfully spent the rest of the evening catching up on emails, Facebook and the news.
This morning Tim enjoyed sitting in his lounge chair beside the RV, soaking up some sunshine. We have gotten word that our close friends, Dick and Karen, may be able to join us with their new RV in Glacier National Park and we are ecstatic. We envision sitting outside visiting, possibly enjoying a campfire, having a glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres for happy hour.
Traveling this much has allowed us to see some amazing places, but we sure do miss our friends and family. Fingers crossed that this will work out…
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS
Right next to the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel (currently closed for renovations) sits an enormous hill of travertine. It was created over thousands of years when water from underground springs bubbled to the surface, depositing calcium carbonate.
When I visited here in the early 1980’s, the terraces were very much alive and water filled the basins.
Tim and I returned about 10-12 years ago, and there were still many beautiful pools cascading down the mountain.
Today, due to recent minor earthquake activity, the spring vent has shifted, rendering the terraces almost entirely dry.
We hiked up to the top of the terrace to see the views, but other than a couple minor places, such as Mound Spring shown above, the mountain was dead.
I suppose if I had not seen the incredible beauty years ago, I might still have found this more worthy of admiration. Instead, it felt like we were attending a funeral.
But there is other life here at Mammoth Hot Springs – ELK – and lots of them. They have invaded the town area, grazing on the grassy lawn, napping under the trees with this years crop of babies, and whipping visiting photography happy tourists into a lather. The poor park rangers have their hands full trying to keep people safe, reminding them that these are WILD animals, stay away, don’t approach them, come back here, etc.
Tim and I last visited in the fall, which happened to coincide with the elk mating season or “Rut”. The large males would round-up their harem, and “bugle” to let other males know this was their territory. We witnessed several dominant guys crash antlers in a fierce competition for the herd.
We also saw one man not paying attention, get too close and get chased by a large bull elk. His red solo cup went flying as he made a mad dash to safety. Tim snapped a few pictures during the episode and shared them with him at dinner that evening. Lucky outcome this time!
But this was not always a tourist site to see travertine terraces. Back in 1891, the US Government established Fort Yellowstone here to try to help combat poaching and damage to the newly created National Park. Thirty five of the original buildings still remain.
The Mail Carrier’s Cabin, “is significant as the only 1800s log structure still standing in Mammoth Hot Springs. Its rustic style is more typical of construction of the area and time than are the buildings put up by the US Army for Fort Yellowstone. It was probably built in the mid 1890s, and over the years it has provided quarters for mail carriers as well as employees of concessions and the National Park Service.” ~ nps.gov
An evening excursion into the nearby town of Gardiner took us into Montana and out the north (original) entrance of the park.
After getting the car washed, picking up some groceries, and a quick dinner, we returned to the park. Passing under the large arched Roosevelt Gate with the stone signage reading, “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people” made me proud of our forefathers who were wise enough to preserve our most precious natural properties for future generations to enjoy. Theodore Roosevelt himself laid the cornerstone.
The Yellowstone River snuggled against the side of the road as we returned to our campsite.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see Mammoth Hot Springs in all her earlier glory. Who knows, perhaps another seismic occurrence will reopen a vent and the water will again flow over these beautiful terraces.
COMING NEXT: Beartooth Highway, a National Scenic Byways All-American Road