High School Field Ecology: Yellowstone Experience (Video)
Sunday, July 10: On this day, we moved away from our beloved Kelly Campus to embark on the long trek to Mars, WY. Some people call it Yellowstone. It was a strange place where we lived in tents without showers. On this day, we set up our tents and discovered the oddities of the West Thumb of Mars, where we observed beautiful steaming hot springs (not your average Jacuzzi) in front of Yellowstone Lake. In fact, there were some hot springs under the surface of the lake. People used to fish in the lake and dip their fish in to cook them, but the bones from fallen fish have now plugged the hot springs. There was also a bubbling mud pot that looked suspiciously like hot chocolate. Apparently there is a big plume of hot rock that keeps that chocolate bubbling nicely, but it’s also a very large supervolcano that was supposed to erupt 40,000 years ago. Hmmm. Should we have been worried? The quality of dinner was, of course, excellent.
Monday, July 11: After our first night camping, we moved to another campsite. Apparently, it takes at least four people to take down a tent and six people to watch because there is nothing for them to do. That morning, we walked to the most famous hot spring in Yellowstone, the Grand Prismatic. That was a very interesting morning. On the walk there, we had a first-hand lesson about niches and competition. An eagle chased down a fish-laden osprey to steal a good meal, and since the osprey liked living better than the fish, it dropped its kill for the eagle. Immediately afterwards, a raven came by looking for scraps, black in front of the bright blue steam rising off the Grand Prismatic. We continued on our odyssey, finally going on a short walk up a ninety degree hill to get a view of this beautiful hot spring. That afternoon, we visited some geysers in the Norris Geyser Basin. Several of us did yoga for a while in the rain and wind at our new campsite. We were stumped for a moment, though. It is incredibly difficult to do Sun Salutations in front of rainclouds. After dinner, we watched a lightning show from the vans instead of having an evening program. Safety, first, you know. They didn’t think you would be very happy if we were used in a human lightning rod experiment.
Tuesday, July 12: We were in the van by sunrise today and saw valleys full of mist with golden rays peeking from behind the mountains. Our quest today was to look for wolves in the Lamar valley, which is far too beautiful to be real. It’s more like a fairy tale. We set up some spotting scopes near some wolf watchers, but saw no wolves. We did get an interesting talk from a ranger about several of the wolves, though. Cinderella is apparently a universal story, and we learned about a more wolfy version. Breakfast was in the parking lot. Afterwards, we went to the Rose Creek wolf pen, where several wolves were first brought after a harrowing journey from Canada to acclimatize to their new home. It was kind of sad, that pen. It wasn’t very big and we could still find their hair and bones from their food. We went to sleep at home sweet tent after a very cozy campfire and s’mores.
This blog entry covers the first half of our trip to Mars, WY. Unfortunately, for some unfathomable reason, there are no laptops and free Wi-Fi hotspots in campgrounds, so some delay was inevitable. Thank you for your patience.
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