Last Day – Day 7

NarrowGaugeTerrace

It’s our last day in Yellowstone National Park!  We switched activities today and one group went cross country skiing and the other group went to Mammoth Hot Springs and hiked to the Upper Terraces. It was colder than we had anticipated today because of a the morning showers, but luckily the sun came out and the temperature didn’t drop too much. It was in the mid-50s the day prior and many of us were definitely sweating as we cruised up to the Tower Falls in our skiis.  Today, the second group had a cooler experience, making it a little easier hopefully given the amount of activity that the cross country skiing required.  We all found out just how challenging cross country skiing is these past two days.  Many of us compared it to being on the elliptical machine for three to four hours.  Going down hill was a huge blessing, as you might imagine!

SamSkiing

While one group went to the Tower Falls on skis, the other group hiked to the Mammoth Hot Springs.  The walk around the geysers was really interesting.  The group that hiked got to go to the cave today that emits Carbon Dioxide – watch out!  Predators often cruise by this location looking for food, hoping that a creature may have fallen into or ventured to closely to the cave and suffocated because of the dangerous gases.  We happened to find some animal bones near the cave site today that proved this theory.  Scary stuff!  Lucky for us, the cave was frozen over, but we certainly kept our distance.

All in all – we had a great final day in Yellowstone.  The group that hiked did one final walk to an Indian circle and discussed the importance of our time here in Yellowstone and what it meant for each one of us.  Also, both groups stopped today in the town of Gardiner, Montana to do a little shopping and pick up a souvenir or two. I think some people purchased some ice cream too ; )  Overall, this has been an amazing experience that I’m sure none of us will ever forget.  We talked a lot about preservation today, giving back to the national parks that surround us, and returning to the park some day.  Tonight we are gathered at the boys cabin for our final meal, taking turns to decide what the guys will be singing for their final lip synching performance and playing cards.  We’ll wake up late tomorrow, pack and then head out for Bozeman to get on a plane heading home to Atlanta!

See you soon Pace family!  We can’t wait to share all of our adventures with you in person.

Signing out from Montana …

-Mrs. P

 

Mammoth Hot Springs and Cross Country Skiing – Day 6

Cross Country Skiing Group 1

Before heading out to cross-country ski and learn about the Yellowstone Caldera, aka, the Yellowstone Supervolcano, both groups stopped to watch the Grizzly enjoying his morning. The students practiced digiscoping (that’s when you place your iPhone behind the scope to take a close up picture) and were able to capture some amazing shots of the bear and surrounding coyotes. Just before heading out to explore the park, one group was given a photo book by professional photographer, C. Thomas Hoff. He was kind enough to give us the latest copy of his book Yellowstone Wild, which is full of amazing pictures he has taken in the park. What a gift!

After another great start to the day, the groups split up to spend time engaged in learning and activity. One group went to the Mammoth Hot Springs to learn more about the thermodynamic features in Yellowstone. While there, the group learned all there is to know about how to predict when the volcano will erupt again, what to expect when it does and why we don’t have to be too worried about it erupting anytime soon. The group also learned that Yellowstone experiences between 1,000-3,000 earthquakes each year, though most are relatively minor. The day ended with a hike to Wraith Falls before heading back for the night.

The other group set out to try their hand at cross-country skiing and found they task to be more difficult than they expected. The group learned the importance of gliding through the snow and did their best to keep their balance. Although the first half of the trip was uphill, the group found ways to stay cool and ate snow when they got thirsty. The group enjoyed their lunch at the beautiful Tower Fall before enjoying the mostly downhill trek back home.

-Mr. Heacock

Yellowstone Brings Its “A” Game – Day 5

Grizzly - Photo Compliments Ben Tolliday

We saw a Grizzly Bear today!  As soon as we entered the park we saw him, sitting out on the Black Tail Deer Plateau, having his breakfast – likely, a bison.  While it is rare to see one this time of year, they have been known to come out as early as March. One of the main reasons for this is the unseasonably warm weather right now.

We set up our scopes and began to watch.  Quickly, a lot of wildlife development happened around the bear, mainly because he had food.  Coyotes came in to try and take some of the bear’s food and a bald eagle.  A group of bison with a mother (we know because she was tagged) was trying to lurk in the background unseen.  It was wild! Literally!

Ben Tolliday took the photo you see at the top of the post.  The students were placing their iPhones behind the Nikon Scopes to get a close up picture of the bear.  Since we were some of the first park visitors of the day to see the bear, we had a lot of room for viewing.  Quickly though, park rangers showed up and started blocking off the area. Of course, I find this fascinating from a historical perspective because when the park first opened it was considered a Yellowstone tourist attraction to feed the grizzlies from your car!  If you take a look at the most recent National Geographic you’ll see a picture of what I am talking about.  Clearly, things have changed!  When we were leaving the park for the day, the bear was holding his ground in the same spot and the visitors had tripled in numbers.  We were glad we saw the early morning show of Mr. Bear.

For the remainder of our day we headed east toward Barronette Peak to start our project for the afternoon – building a quinzee.  We divided into two groups and began the task of building snow mounds and packing the snow to a hard shell with our snow shoes.  After letting the mound sit for an hour while we ate our lunch, it was ready to start digging out the interior with snow shovels. You have never seen such effort in the snow! As the doorway to the quinzee became large enough to fit inside, the interior came into shape and our quinzee took on the appearance of an igloo. The boys quinzee included a snow shoot to the entrance so they could slide into the front door.  The girls quinzee was so large (thanks to the help of Josh, our awesome guide) that all of us could fit inside. It was very cool!

Tired from all the digging and snow shoeing we started our journey home only to see our grizzly bear one more time in the same spot, guarding his left overs. What a day! We are tired and happy and look forward to our nightly routine of dinner and a movie.

Here’s a few lines from Quill & Will, aka “Mort” from the day:

“Today at Yellowstone we had an amazing day! It started off with celebrating Squatche’s (Ben C.) birthday. Next my group went on a hour hike with some very nice views. After we finished we started to make our way to the eastern range of Yellowstone to build a quinzee which is smaller to an igloo. Along the way we saw something that just came out of hibernation which is a grizzly bear. Finally we started making our quinzees and we also had a legendary snow ball fight and a beautiful hike. Today was another great day at Yellowstone!” – Quill

“Today at Yellowstone I saw a grizzly bear fight off a coyote, an eagle, and some Bi (multiple bison) he slid down multiple hills, which was a lot of fun. Next Jimbo, Ben T., Ben C., and Jack M. built a quinzee taking three hours and making a lot of space.”         – Will, aka “Mort”

That’s all the news to report for today.  It was a lot of fun and we are looking forward to hiking and seeing Mammoth Hot Springs tomorrow.

– Mrs. Parrino & Coach Tutt