Monday, October 4, 2010

Really I Mean it, We're Leaving

The northeast entrance of Yellowstone Park became the northeast exit for us.  It was across the mountain top, along a windy road that soon was overlooking the valley far below. 
Along the way we traveled through burned out forests and hills consisting of boulders appearing to have randomly been piled upon each other by some giant child.  

I suppose a more likely explanation is that they were part of one of the many giant upheavals that took place throughout the mountain’s formation when rock was formed then twisted by quakes that shook the earth.

 We were, once again, in a thermal spring area with the main break named Mammoth.  The scene of a large thermal outpouring, Mammoth is changing daily as one exit stops flowing and another opens up on down the hill.

Mammoth is actually a town within the park that was once the headquarters for the Army cavalry. The buildings were occupied from 1891 until 1918 though the park, was formed in 1872, becoming the nation’s first national park.  
Currently, Mammoth serves as the park headquarters, home to park rangers and civilian  workers that keep the park going such as the man who in in charge of the park post office maintenance.  One-by-one he is shutting down the post offices within the park.  The only one to remain open will be the office at Mammoth since the other areas of the park will only be accessible by snow mobile.

One of the most interesting things about the park headquarters is the fact that several elk make their home nearby just as their ancestors did before humans occupied the area.  Like teens hanging out at the local hamburger joint,  during rutting season, the elks gather around the headquarters buildings to “cruise” searching for a suitable mate.
This fellow above appears to be lounging in the wilds of Yellowstone.  That illusion is only the result of Jeff’s amazing photography. While I was in the post office mailing cards, he grabbed my camera and started shooting.

From another angle you see the same elk below.
There were signs everywhere warning tourists to stay away from the elk.  Evidently it was especially dangerous to approach the cows upon which he or one of the other bucks had set his eye. This fellow, below, hadn't read the signs. He looks too comfortable to be scary.
We did obey the signs so luckily neither of us was gored.

Between Mammoth and the exit gate we passed through beautiful country, driving between mountains going down toward the valley below . . .

. . . where in the distance we could see the aspen already dressed in autumn colors.

The land, once again grew sage and provided browse for buffalo that migrated to the area with the approaching winter.
The meadows were good places for trail rides. Several of the pull-off areas were only for trucks pulling and unloading horses trailers.
We observed one such group, with their guide, riding across the valley toward distant hills.
The meadows along the meandering creek were filled with buffalo
We had a chance to observe calves with their mothers . . .
 . . .and one animal enjoying a fun roll in the dust.
I knew that when we left I would miss the buffalo.

Other sights we passed were a petrified tree . . .

. . . other tourists . . .

 . . and more burned forest.

Just before the gate, we didn’t even bother to stop where a others had exited their vehicles to catch a glimpse a grizzly bear that is evidently a regular near this part of the road. Though I did want to see a bear, there were too many people and the bear was just too far away.  

We said good-bye to the park and drove east.

1 comment:

Willard said...

Thanks for posting the link to the page in your comment on Pennsylvania Elk. I did look at it right away, but keep forgetting to comment, although I think about it frequently when I am away from the computer. The photographs bring back a lot of memories. I have only been there once in late August of 2008, but I can picture it vividly in my mind and of course I have a lot of photos and video from the trip, but it is still good to see photos from anothers perspective.