Saturday, May 27, 2017

"SUMMER SEASON" in Yellowstone

Mid-May in Yellowstone can still look wintery.  These trees burned in the East Fire over 10 years ago.
  Summer can be elusive in Yellowstone.  This year seems like the coldest and snowiest  May I have  experienced in my eight "summers" in the park.   Today, May 30, it was 65 by 11:00 am and it feels downright summery, at last.  Those of us in the employee RV park have left our water running, very slowly, but running, all night to prevent the hoses and pipes from freezing.  The norm, until the last two nights has been 26-28 degrees;  the last two nights we have barely dipped below freezing and then for a short time.

  I had the text for this blog all written and loaded and then lost it.  Internet in the park is too slow to download my photos so I am sitting in West Yellowstone in order to write and publish my blog post.   I'm rewriting, probably not as eloquently as the first version, but it will give you and idea of what its like here.

   I don't mind the weather most people would call wintry.   It creates beautiful patterns, the bison stand out against it, I wake to silence.  The morning I swept 8 inches off my bus at 5:00 a.m. I was concerned about road conditions.  A single pair of tracks, already partially filled as the snow continued to fall,  led out to my pick-up point. But the snow was light and powdery, so driving felt as if the road were dry.  My historic yellow bus has great traction and its large tires, with duals in back, handles well.  Our first stop showed no signs of human habitation.  What a delight.   As the snow melted, water on the road began forming ice spokes on the hub caps and old fashioned "curb feelers."  By the end of my tour, this is what it looked like.   I don't take my camera on tours as there is no time for me, during that intense time, to shoot.  But I do have my phone with me and I got these three shots.

The campground is often a challenge at the beginning of the season.   This year I have a more open site than last year.  The actual site had been cleared and the berms of snow were melting.  Both the piles of snow showed in the next two photos are gone although some of my neighbors at the end of May still have snow behind and alongside their sites.

This is my picnic table, tipped on its side for the winter to keep weight off it.  My site this year has more sun that some sites and has melted a bit quicker than has the drifts for some of my neighbors.
A neighbors picnic table, either not tipped or fallen back on the level in winds before the snow buried it, is barely visible here.

May 13 and the ice is breaking up on Yellowstone Lake.  My friend and co-worker, Jackie and I spend a day on the east side of the park, enjoying the scenery and photographing.

The wind had blown floes of ice onto the beach at Mary Bay
From the overlook at Lake Butte we could see the cracks in the ice.

Fishing Cone in the West Thumb region.  The ice breaks up here a little before other areas of the Lake.  In the early park days, the tradition was that people dropped their freshly caught fish, still on the hook, into this cone to cook their dinner.  I suspect it cooked so fast that it fell off the bones before they retrieved it so folks did it for the novelty and not the practicality.

Evening light hits the snow above Swan Lake Flats.

Black Sand Basin is one of my favorite sites for early morning photography.  The steam and the Bobby Soxs trees intriques me.   Bobby Soxs trees are ones killed as water patterns change and healthy trees drown.  The drowned trees have pulled the hot, mineral water up into their capilaries.  Once the water evaporates, the minerals remain, preserving the roots and tree trunk.  The bottom 2-3 feet are white from the minerals so they look they are wearing white socks.

Another view of Black Sand Basin.
I love ravens for their character, intelligence, and their beauty.  The light was right to capture the iridescent blue of the feathers.  This one is devouring a gosling.   Canada Geese are attentive parents but the mortality rate is pretty high.

If you click on this to enlarge it, you can see the umbilical chord, dried and about to fall off, but still an indicator that this is a very young calf.