©Jack Graham, all images shot Dec 2 , 2008
After leaving my home near Portland Oregon early yesterday (Mon 12/1) I decided to drive the 12+hrs. to Livingston MT, about 50 miles north of the Northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. All other entrences are closed for the winter. Only 50 or so miles of roads between Gardiner Mt and Cook City Wyoming are open to cars.
When I got to Livingston Mt. about 7PM last night it was about 50 degrees. This was really warm for Dec 2nd. However the forecast warned of changes.
After a restless nights sleep (the elevation -5000’ or so, and the anticipation of the next days shoot didn’t help things) I set out early today for Yellowstone NP. Again the temp was 50 degrees but windy.
As I reached the Park it was in the 40’s but I could see snow in the higher altitudes coming in. I decided mainly because of the great light to shoot the Mammoth Hot Springs, lower terraces.These are “living sculptures”, shaped by the volume of water, slope and objects in the waters path.
Fissures from the surrounding mountains create heated water that seeps down the slops in this are creating amazing color, patterns in the limestone deposited here millions of years ago. At he surface calcium carbonate is deposited in the form of a travertine, the rock that forms the springs. The colors are created by heat loving microorganisms called Thermopiles. Orange green and brown colors are predominant here in Yellowstone.
After a few hours here, and just down the road, the resident elk of the Mammoth Hot Springs Park Headquarters area were, as usual just hanging out, as they do much of the year. These are huge animals but seem to like the area and have grown accustomed the traffic and photographers like me.
The sun came in right on scheduled but not in the amount forecast. There was actually a lit of blue sky and sunlight happening as I drove east toward Cooke City.
Hayden Valley, which at times is teaming with wildlife, was pretty empty. Perhaps they knew the weather was about to go really downhill.
On the way back out of the park a few large bull elk provided some great photographic experiences
Upon leaving the park, the snow started in earnest and near whiteout conditions were common in the 50 mile drive back up to Livingstone. However it was a great day in Yellowstone and I am looking forward to tomorrow AM. After the morning in the park, I’ll get over to Cody Wy. Mid afternoon in time to meet the folks joining me.
Weather is quote ominous for the balance of the week as well. Check back for more updates and images…..