Dear M, M & B:
We have a photo which shows us at the North Entrance to the Park, at the arch Teddy Roosevelt had erected. We are wearing fewer clothes in this photo than we did the entire rest of the trip. D is sporting his LLBean "system" - a four-in-one rain jacket/parka that kept him nice and warm, plus the boots he forgot to break in before we left, with painful consequences. My hiking shoes held up well; the best wardrobe pieces I packed were a black silk turtleneck that I wore all 4 days, and my fleece pullover.
Shortly after the photo was taken I accepted W's offer of a knit wool cap and resigned myself to "hat hair" the rest of the trip.
Our first stop was Mammoth Hot Springs, where we were joined by W's friend Frank, a former interpretive Ranger, who gave us a scholarly tour of these amazing thermal waters , bubbling out of the ground and precipitating terraces of multicolored "travertine".
Oodles of thermophilic bacteria and algae live in these pools, creating amazing colors. We spent several hours there, then took a leisurely drive to Old Faithful, making many stops along the way to observe the wildlife. Oh yes, there are buffalo galore - grazing in the fields, and crossing the roads to afford us some fantastic closeups. Frank took us "off the beaten path" to see a particular hot spring where the bacteria "thermophilus aquaticus" was discovered, which is now used in DNA sequencing.
By the way, the blue color of this pool indicates that is is VERY hot - W and Frank regaled us with gruesome tales of drunken campers and unrestrained children who wandered off, fell into these springs, and were boiled to death!
We arrived at Old Faithful about 5:30 pm - the famous geyser had apparently just gone off 15 minutes earlier, so Frank led us on what turned out to be a 3 mile hike touring several dozen OTHER geysers in the area- many more spectacular, but less predictable than the favorite. Along the way we came upon a herd of elk grazing within the thermal field. It was about then when D started to look very uncomfortable and confessed that he'd failed to break in his hiking boots. We staggered to our hotel- learned we'd missed Old Faithful once again - and opted for a long-overdue dinner.
By 8:30 pm, we were encamped in the Snow Lodge- and sound asleep.