January 19, 2007


We ski, snowshoe, and hike around Mammoth Hot Springs near the northwest entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Mammoth's upper terrace is steamy and partly snow-covered, and from it my brother leads us into the woods to an unnamed thermal feature (photo here). After taking a trail through caking snow (the temperature is around 30) we bushwhack back to the hot springs.

On the terrace at least one Bohemian waxwing flock is on the move, and a life bird, a mountain chickadee. Later I flush a white-tailed jackrabbit. We finish the day at the best end-of-a-winter-day spot in Yellowstone. Here the Boiling River, draining from Mammoth, emerges from the ground and enters the Gardner River.

The Boiling River itself is dangerously hot, but where it joins the Gardner rocks protect bathers from the swift Gardner current. Elk browse the slope above the river opposite us; one stares at us and bolts. Downstream, mallard and goldeneye ducks ride the river, which is warm enough for trout to spawn in December. American dippers, remarkable birds that walk underwater for food, can overwinter here because of the warmer water, but I don't see one.


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