Hot springs, wet pants, and walls of ice

Mammoth Hot Springs Travel Blog

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Yellowstone National Park
Cold.


Really, really, cold.


No.  REALLY cold.


We came unprepared.  Blue jeans, long johns, toboggan, sweater, t-shirts, 2 pairs of socks.  The end.  That's all we had.  Dramatic enough?  Haha, if you can't tell, it was really cold, a lot colder than we thought we'd ever see.

I woke up in the Wal-mart parking lot with numb toes, and cold nose.  I thought I had been knocked unconscious and woke up in the driver's seat of the car in a random parking lot.  What I didn't expect was the change in temperature.  After a few minutes of situating ourselves in the car, we headed out of the parking lot and straight for Yellowstone. 

As we got to the park, it began to snow.  And snow.  And snow.
Walls of ice
  When we arrived at the park ranger station, he laughed at us when he saw what we were wearing, and when we told him we were going to camp here for the night.  Seeing our impending miserable state of being if we went where we thought was best, he pointed us to the 'lowest elevation in the park, where you might keep some of your fingers and toes through the night.'  Comforting.  We paid him for the camping, then made our way through the park.  I say park, but it was more like an ice fortress.  It felt as if we were passing between two walled cities, with the ice higher than the car on either side.  When you're sitting in the back seat in blue jeans and flip-flops, those walls look to be about 30 feet taller and ten's of degrees colder.  I was freezing just sitting there.
::That looks pretty cold. ::Yep, wasn't expecting this...
..and we had the heat on.  This was going to be some experience.

Yellowstone Lake peaked our interest when we passed it, mostly because it was completely frozen.  I have never seen a frozen lake that big, so that was exciting for me.  We skipped rocks off the surface until our hands were numb (about a 3 rock limit), then got back in the car and headed farther into the park.  About this time, the driver realized we were almost out of gas.  Almost out of gas surrounded by mountains of ice and snow.  Beautiful. 

We scanned the park map and found a gas staion nearby.  Closed.
We found another one closer to our camp.  Closed.
As a last resort, we pulled into this rundown gas station and peaked inside.
Yellowstone campsite
  Turns out the station was 'rundown' due to weather.  This particular station obviously got the worst of whatever storm that had come through.  We were able to get enough gas to get us through the park. 

We continued on the park roads for what seemed like hours (Yellowstone's huge!!!) until we finally reached our campsite at Mammoth Hot Springs.  Compared to our Badlands campsite, it was very similar.  The nagging difference that we couldn't seem to forget was that the temperature was about 40 degrees colder.  Who would've thunk it?  Early May?  Not cold, right?  Haha, shows how inexperienced a traveler I am.  The campsite we picked was fine, except for all the deer droppings everywhere.
Eerie
  I mean, everywhere.  We had to sweep some away just so we could place the tent on a flat, fecal-free plot of earth.  The campsite was beautiful.  In the backdrop of snow-covered mountains, you could find our campsite, the Honda Accord, and multiple RV's.  Besides a nice sports car, we looked like the only other ones traveling without an RV.  Guess we didn't get the memo.

After we were settled, we made our way towards Old Faithful, stopping at the Fountain Paint Pots and the Mammoth Hot Springs terraces.  Chalky white and foul smelling, these sulfurous outcroppings of natural hot springs were very cool to see.  A wooden path wound its way up, down, and around all the hot springs, leaving us to get lost amongst the stinky rocks.  At one point, the snow was so bad that instead of a wooden path, there was a simple rope tied to a tree that snaked its way down to our feet.
Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces
  A little ropes climbing, anyone?  Guess they're not responsible for injury??  Throughout the springs, I got the strange feeling that I was in a scene from the video tape in The Ring, you know...the part where you see the girl climbing out of the well....the fly on the screen, the lady falling over the edge.  Whether it was the way the steam rolled over the springs, or the eeriness of the half dead trees that were sticking out of the liquid, it was creepy....

...until two Asian photographers entered stage left and started clicking like mad.  Action shots.  Action shots of steam.  Seriously??  And peace signs.  World peace for the steam and hot springs.  Yippee!

After the hot springs adventure, we headed south towards the paint pots.  Being the novice Yellowstone visitor, I didn't have a clue what the heck my roommates were talking about...
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Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Walls of ice
Walls of ice
::That looks pretty cold.
::Yep, …
::That looks pretty cold. ::Yep,…
Yellowstone campsite
Yellowstone campsite
Eerie
Eerie
Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces
Shouldve brought my snowshoes
Should've brought my snowshoes
Frozen Yellowstone Lake
Frozen Yellowstone Lake
Um...theres snow.  Whats this sn…
Um...there's snow. What's this s…
And theyre getting bigger...and c…
And they're getting bigger...and …
Camouflage car
Camouflage car
Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake
Random deer chillin around our ca…
Random deer chillin' around our c…
Dont stand on a hot spring!!
Don't stand on a hot spring!!
Look at the lady pointing and laug…
Look at the lady pointing and lau…
Big nose
Big nose
And the sulfur, is sulfur!
And the sulfur, is sulfur!
Eerie
Eerie
Sports car friend
Sports car friend
Greeeeen Yellowstone Lake
Greeeeen Yellowstone Lake
Mammoth Hot Springs
photo by: amudha_colaco