January 13, 2009
Our time in Mammoth Springs was short, but sweet. Today we took a snowcoach tour back to Old Faithful. I would have loved to spend at least one more day here in Mammoth, but many of the tours we want to take are out of Old Faithful. For the third tour in a row, we were joined by the couple we met yesterday. In fact we were the only four people in the snow coach again today. We left Mammoth behind in the early morning and actually had partly cloudy skies all the way down. This meant that the sun came out often to give us photographic light and we took advantage shooting off many pictures again today. The wildlife was not as abundant today and we only had a few spottings. However, for most of the way we traveled along the Gibbon and Madison Rivers providing many opportunities to photography the trumpeter swans, dippers, and Canadian geese. Also, the river, fed by thermal water, created many beautiful cornices over the water. A cornice is the shape the snow makes as it hangs over the water with it’s shape defined by the wind, water, and steam coming past. Our tour guide quizzed us on information we had learned on the other tours and also provided additional information. Each guide is expected to do their own reading and research for the tours so each guide provides a new tour.
We arrived at Old Faithful at noon, put our luggage on the provided sleds and trekked out to check out our cabin. We are the last cabin in a long row of cabins, so we’ve got a great view out the window. The summer time accommodations at Old Faithful are not insulated, so we are in the snow lodge and snow cabins. The cabin is surprisingly large. I was expecting a tiny cabin much like the one we stayed at in Mammoth Springs when we were there in 2002. However, we’ve got a nice long room with a table and dresser even. After lunch we took a small siesta before heading out on our rented snowshoes. The snowshoes here are very different from the ones we rented in Steamboat. I’m not sure which are better for which kind of snow, but these worked great here. The snow is very different than Steamboat as it compacts more and is not the powder that Steamboat has. As a result, we did not sink quite as much into the snow as we snowshoed into the forest on a trail looking for a little hot spring. It was fun to go off road through the trees and we often did. We were out until sunset blazing new trails through the snow chasing animal tracks. The animals were surely long gone, but it was still fun.
Tonight was the first clear night we’ve seen and we took advantage. After dinner we hiked out to Old Faithful to see it go off in the dark. It turns out that we were 2 of 6 people that decided to go out. Unfortunately the almost full moon did not make a presence (we were too early for moon rise), so I couldn’t get a shot of the geyser going off, but it sounded amazing in the dark. I was able to get some star pictures, though.
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