West Yellowstone Tri-State Adventure

EvanNovember 27, 2011
Today was our first true rest day of camp and we took a drive to the west to see some sights, do some animal hunting (spotting), and clear our heads from the grid of roads and trails of West Yellowstone.  Today was another beautiful day with a clear and crisp, sub-zero morning, but it warmed up super fast.  We drove west on 20 out of town towards Henry’s Lake, Idaho where the landscape opened up before us in a large basin.
Looking out over Henry’s Lake towards the Tetons.
Our destination was Quake Lake, a geologic marvel caused by an earthquake in 1959.  The short story is a massive landslide was triggered by the tremors of the quake. A vertical layer of dolomite had supported  millions of tons of less stable rock above it, and the collapse of this dolomite allowed all that rock to charge down the mountainside.  The side of the mountain rode across the Madison River Canyon and up the other wall, depositing 300 vertical feet of rock over the former river bed.  This dammed the river and completely changed it’s course of travel.  This tree, like many others, stands in its original position trapped in the new path of the water as a reminder of what took place over fifty years ago.
We all had a lot of fun roaming around a closed park site perched on the rubble from the slide.  Two huge dolomite boulders stand at the top of the debris on the opposite side of the canyon—an amazing display of the force of the slide.  These two house-sized rocks literally surfed the wave of the landslide and were placed like monuments.
Hans had some fun posing for shots on the rocks with the dramatic background.
Heidi, Dev, and Ryley taking in the view from the top of the other rock, a 3,000 ton behemoth that has a plaque to commemorate the lives of twenty-seven people who were killed by the slide while camping along the Madison on that fateful evening.  In a matter of a few minutes over 300 million tons of rocks slipped.
Heidi was the first to the top of the windswept vista.  The snow-covered foreground was covered with tracks from small mammals, like pica, fox, coyote or wolf.
Looking West from the earthen dam area the rerouted Madison heads towards the Atlantic.  During our drive we came from the left side of the shot where we crossed the Continental Divide at 6843 feet of elevation.

Always time for a few lessons of about the snow — checking out roller balls of snow caused from the suns intense warming of the snow.  Coach Beckwith has a large one in his hands and and there are many more in front of the group.
After a boost and a careful spot.

Another mountaineering shot.

Enough of the non-living science!  Animal hunting or spotting is a fun game we’ve been playing as a team on drives.  We were greeted by a surreal scene on Hebgen Lake, with a small flock of Trumpeter Swans sitting on mirror-like ice and then flying along us on the road.  Evan was able to catch some neat shots.
Our list from today’s drive: raven, Swainson’s Hawk, elk, mountain goat, hairy woodpecker, fox, trout being caught by an angler and a magpie.

Mountain Goat.

Red Fox.

Bald Eagle.


Swainson’s Hawk.


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