|The boys and me at Black Sands|
We stopped for a picnic at one of our favorite rest areas, Howard Springs. The boys like Howard Springs because the water is so good and I like it because of the wildflowers. It was the first place I ever saw Lewis Monkeyflowers.
|Lewis Monkeyflower after the rain|
|Yellow Monkeyflower and friend|
|This is either Cowparsnip or Water Hemlock. Haven't taken the time to really identify it.|
|The picnic. Haydn has mastered the teenage art of the half-smile|
We went to the Mountain Man Rendezvous, which is really just an outdoor shopping mall/flea market with all the vendors dressed in leather. The last time I attended, I saw these old timey mountain man flint and steel sets. I decided ahead of time that I would get one of those this year. I was at a vendor's tent and he let me try one out. On the first pass, I misjudged and sliced my finger open and bled all over the steel. I told the vendor that since I had bled on it I probably ought to buy it, so I did. I did learn how to make a spark, so that was cool.
After that, I told Jeff that we wanted to go to Black Sands. I hadn't been there since before I had been married. We remembered back and decided that the last time I had been there, we had been there together. I wanted to show my kids the old watering hole. This summer I have shown them four springs. Warm River Springs, Big Springs, Howard Springs and Black Sands Springs.
The water coming from Black Sands, according to Jeff, hasn't seen the light of day for sixty-thousand years. It was covered by the lava flow and has been trapped all that time. Black Sands is so named because the lava flow that covered this area was all obsidian, so the sand is black. Black Sands is the headwaters of the Madison River. From there it flows to the Jefferson River and then to the Missouri and finally to the Mississippi and out into the Gulf of Mexico. I don't know how long it takes the water to go all the way to the gulf because it sits in several reservoirs and lakes along the way.
It is a very peaceful, beautiful spot where we used to like to go when we were younger. The water is really fine there as well. The headwaters of the spring were covered with yellow monkeyflowers. There were many other flowers as well, and I did see several fringed gentians. Those and monkeyflowers may be my new favorite wildflowers.
|Jeff and the boys at the rendezvous|
|Of course I'd photograph a skull|
|Lodge of one of the mountain men|
|I discovered that mountain men don't like getting their photos taken|
|The mountain man flea market|
|Jeff at Black Sands|
|Monkeyflowers at Black Sands|
|Yellow Monkeyflower at Black Sands|
|Fringed Gentian at Black Sands|
Jeff had to get back to work, so we dropped him off and I took the boys on a drive up the South Plateau. I had been up there a few times when I was a boy. The South Plateau is an old obsidian flow and I wanted to show my sons an entire mountain of obsidian. The obsidian is so fractured though or so full of impurities that you have to search long and hard to find any pieces that are suitable for flint knapping. The old LDS church in West Yellowstone, where I attended services as a boy was made of obsidian that was quarried from the South Plateau.
I remember once, going up the plateau with friends and picking wild strawberries in a meadow there. As I recall, I harvested enough to make a pint of jam. It was very good. Wild strawberries are very sweet. The taste of the wild ones is richer than the taste of the domesticated and hybridized ones. I hate biting into a big beautiful strawberry only to find that it doesn't taste like anything. The wild ones are always good.
|Obsidian boulders in a roadcut|
|More obsidian boulders|
|This one weighed probably a thousand pounds|
|The old LDS church made of South Plateau obsidian. Now a residence.|
Mystic Falls is a three tiered waterfall that cascades approximately 70 feet down into the canyon. It's kind of unique because thermal activity is visible for the whole length of it. The steam rising from all the thermals gives it a mystical feel, hence the name. It's an easy trail and the views are spectacular. There were a lot of wildflowers along the way as well.
On our way out, it began to rain. It was just a drizzle at first and then became a great deal more committed. Finally it started to hail. We were quite soaked by the time we made it back to the car. I didn't mind, it felt kind of good, actually.
|Aquatic plants in the Firehole River at Biscuit Basin|
|One of the thermal features there|
|I thought this was pretty|
|Pretty pond, similar to Morning Glory Pool without the long hike|
|Hoodoos along the trail|
|What the trail looked like for most of the way|
|First view of the falls|
|Hoodoos along the canyon near the falls|
|Best view of the falls|
|The trail out|
|I think these are cool|
|Travertine being formed|
|Pretty wildflowers amid the charred timber from the fire of 1988|
|Fringed Grass of Parnassus|
|Tons of Fringed Gentian on this trip|
This was becoming a day that I was showing my boys what I used to do when I was their age. On the way home, we stopped at the Firehole Falls Loop road and we stopped at the old swimming hole. It hadn't been opened for several years, but on this day it was open and there were a lot of bathers there. I spent many hours at Firehole when I was a kid. Loved being there. We used to go to Norris, watch Echinus Geyser and eat a bag of potato chips with bean dip. Then we'd go to Firehole and swim for a few hours. We did that a lot. I wanted to show this to my sons. They all decided they wanted to go swim at Firehole sometime this summer. I think I'll indulge them.
|From the cliff we used to jump off|
|Down Firehole Canyon|
|Random delicate cairn someone made.|
|We used to call this Teakettle. I don't know why.|
|Fir tree found purchase on the side of the cliff. Life will find a way, no matter what.|
On the way home we saw a beautiful sunset. Had to capture it.
|Why I live in Idaho|
My boys all agreed that I can make a full day out of a Yellowstone trip. We had a great time. We enjoyed being bachelors for a few days, but it was time for Chimene to come home. She had a wonderful time with her friends down in Utah. I was glad she got to go. I was more glad when she got home.