June 14, 2010
Our second day began with the sun’s rays shining through our cabin windows. We were psyched! After a hearty breakfast, we met briefly for one of our expert topic presentations on the Uinta Ground Squirrel. During our orientation meeting, each of us was assigned a topic to present to the rest of the group whenever we encounter it in the Park. Mary taught us that the Uinta Ground Squirrel not only hibernates in cold weather it also aestivates in the heat of summer. Some adults are only active above ground for 3 months of the year!
We visited Palette Spring, one of the active hot springs at Mammoth Terraces. Melissa gave us a comprehensive talk explaining thermophiles (microoranisms that live at high temperatures), thermal features and the geologic history of Yellowstone. Being here and seeing geologic processes in action really helps us understand these complicated subjects.
After lunch we went on a four-mile hike at Slough Creek. The vistas and beautiful landscapes were breathtaking. Everyone took time to enjoy the majesty of the park and capture these moments with many photos. We had an enjoyable afternoon, stopping along the way to look at a variety of animals: tree swallow and sapsucker nests in Aspen trees, a Mule Deer, wolf and Grizzly tracks and even a Boreal Chorus Frog! Seeing the frog was exciting because there are only four species of amphibians found in Yellowstone!
During our hike at Slough Creek, we took a detour off the trail to see the creek transition from a slow meander through a meadow into a roaring rapids through a steep canyon. The group rose to the occasion, climbing over trees and walking through mud. It was fun to be together in a somewhat challenging situation!
Dinner at The Raven in Gardiner, MT concluded our first full day in Yellowstone. Our group meeting afterwards was a time for retrospection and appreciation of the bounty that nature offers. We’ve returned to our cabins tired yet inspired and ready for another great day in the park tomorrow.