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June 21, 2018

On our final full day in Yellowstone, we explored the last stretches of the boardwalks around Old Faithful. We saw many beautiful and colorful hot springs and geysers, including Anemone Geyser and Castle Geyser.

After that, we departed for Mammoth Hot Springs. We met up with Ranger Matt Ohlen, who specializes in teaching visitors about the history of the park. He shared a ton of stories about the springs; one fascinating story he told was about Ole Anderson, who made souvenirs in Mammoth Hot Springs in the late 1800s. He dipped horseshoes in the springs, where they were coated with travertine, the mineral deposited by the springs which gives the landscape its distinctive bright white color. We explored the mounds and featured hot springs. We learned the difference between mud pots, hot springs, thermal vents, and geysers thanks to a helpful visual demonstration from Ranger Matt.

Once we headed back from the springs, we got back to our cabins, had a reflection meeting during which we spotted two black bears, three pronghorns, countless ground squirrels, and nest building swallows. The highlight of the day was yet to come, after dinner: ICE CREAM!!!!!!

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Junior Curator Yellowstone Trip Day 6

June 20, 2018

Today we spent the majority of our time in Grand Teton National Park, but before we left Yellowstone for the day we went on a “wild geyser chase” to follow up our “wild moose chase.” We made it just in time to witness Beehive Geyser erupt, with a maximum height of 200 feet.

As we were running to the geyser, we took a quick detour to get an amazing close view of a coyote.

After that we piled in the vans to head to the Tetons. The change in the scenery was stunning, with jagged, snow-capped mountaintops that started out shrouded in clouds, but by afternoon were glowing in some of the fullest sunlight we’ve had on the trip. We went for an almost 5-mile hike and saw two mountain lakes, cascades, and wildflowers. As we walked, we made a treacherous journey through the “land of mosquitoes,” but the views were totally worth it!

Junior Curator Yellowstone Trip Day 5

June 19, 2018

Today was incredibly rainy, but it broke for us at the moments when we needed it to. We lingered over breakfast at Lake Lodge and when someone asked to stop by a second time to fill a water bottle we ended up seeing a pine marten running around the porch! The rain stopped just in time for our hike on Pelican Creek and the pelicans were doing their synchronous feeding dance. We found salamanders and leeches at Isa Lake (and though the kids tried hard they would not suck blood so maybe they really are detritivores, as we had been told). West Thumb Geyser Basin wasn’t crowded at all (and it usually is) because it had just stopped pouring. We found a beautiful picnic site for lunch where it wasn’t raining at the time. We stopped for a jam that turned out to be bluebirds hovering over a wetland to feed – tons of them – and then had to run back to the cars in 20 mph winds and sleety rain. The sun came out as we laid by Black Sand pool to feel how it thumps with small hydrothermal explosions, and we took a hike to see Daisy Geyser which erupted as we arrived.

We saw and incredibly beautiful Old Faithful eruption (our third of the day!) as the sun hit it in front of dark clouds.

And the setting sun broke through again as we reached the new Grand Prismatic overlook.

So in spite of the rain it was a great day… it is good to be here.

Junior Curator Yellowstone Trip Day 4

June 18, 2018

“Okay JC’s!” Melissa shouted to the damp flock of teenagers. One by one, they began quieting down, sitting in a circle despite a brief squabble over who would sit next to the radiator.

“What do we want to add to today’s blog?”

Murmurs rippled through the group as ideas were mulled over. It was amazing how one day could be packed with so many exciting options.

“What about the snow this morning?” Alaina offered, tentative in her response. The group considered this, it HAD been memorable after all. Snowballs were thrown, words were written, they even went ‘sledding’ in just their pants! There were a few giggles at the memory.

“Okay, but that coyote though!” Olivia chimed in.

“Oh yeah! And when it chased that baby elk into the river! Coyotes are metal.” Carson added.

“Maybe that can be our band name?” Robert suggested with a shrug. His friends snickered in response.

“Alright guys, back on topic.” Erin grinned at the rambunctious boys.

“Hey, remember when those people got too close to the bison at the thermal features?” Danielle asked after a moment. The JC’s responded with a chorus of oofs. They knew very well how dangerous the large mammals could be, though evidently not all park-goers shared that knowledge.

“I dunno, the cutthroat trout were pretty cool.” Robert interjected.

“Yeah, especially when they were jumping!” Alyssa, who had waited a good half hour for the perfect picture of the fish, mused.

“We got some pretty great pictures of that.” Sam added, taking out his camera to demonstrate.

“Speaking if pictures, what about that hawk we saw!” Mavry grinned at the memory.

“Oh yeah! And the pelican was pretty majestic too,” Rumi shared in the excitement, “it was huge!”

Then Melissa said she got a report of a moose and they ran to the vans, the blog forgotten.

By Mavry, Lauren, Robert, and Jason

JC Yellowstone Trip Day 3

June 17, 2018

It was another rainy day, but that did not deter us. We got to meet and go hiking with an amazing wildlife photographer Dan Hartman. He took us hiking through open meadows where we saw a ruffed grouse and a big bull bison (from a safe distance).

Some other highlight included finding a second frog species, spawning cutthroat trout, and another wolf.

A favorite moment was our “wild moose chase” which ended with a great view of a cow moose along Soda Butte Creek.

Overall, it was another wild day in Yellowstone!

Hiking with Dan

Our shoes got very wet but the sun finally came out over Trout Lake

Junior Curator Yellowstone Trip Day 1 and 2!

June 16, 2018

Here the blog we wrote at the end of the day we arrived… a little late in coming, but we hope you enjoy!

When we all assembled, it was four am in RDU airport. The day we had anticipated for months was finally upon us—the day we departed for Yellowstone National Park.

Thirteen Junior Curators from NCMNS and our three fearless leaders, Melissa, Erin, and Kurt, headed to Yellowstone for a weeklong foray into the wilderness. After ten hours of travel by air and land (aka plane and van), we reveled in the fact that we had finally arrived in Yellowstone. We walked through the Roosevelt Arch that used to mark the arrival of stagecoaches into the park, “letting go of our cares like autumn leaves,” as John Muir instructed Yellowstone visitors years ago, we turned our minds to focus on exploring the park and its wonders.

Within five hours of our arrival, we had seen a total of six bears and multiple elk and pronghorns, as well as more common animals such as beetles and chipmunks. We saw elk lying in a field between two buildings at Mammoth Hot Springs and watched four bears—including three cubs—run across the road between stopped cars.

At the end of the day, we arrived at our lodgings and settled in for food and discussion of what we had seen and hoped to see in the following days…

Our second day, in summary, was cold, wet, and amazing. We fit so much in that it felt like a week instead of a day. We got to see baby sheep jumping in the air and wolves feeding on a baby pronghorn. We watched a adult peregrine falcon feed her four chicks, while its partner waited out the rain in a notch across the canyon. We stood quietly by a talus slope and were lucky enough to see an elusive pika. We saw one of only 5 amphibians in Yellowstone – a boreal chorus frog. And we learned a lot about wolves on a hike to the only remaining acclimation pen with Kira Cassidy, a wolf biologist. Cold. Wet. Amazing!

Junior Curator Yellowstone Trip – Day 1

June 14, 2018

We’re here! Yellowstone is wonderful! We only have limited internet access right now, so we’ll post more details soon. But for now a few pictures from our first afternoon in the park.