Crazy lone Ranger, doing something no one sane would...

 
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:43 pm    Post subject: Crazy lone Ranger, doing something no one sane would... Reply with quote

Yellowstone National Park, dead of winter, -26 degrees.....

The World’s largest Super Volcano, Yellowstone Caldera is 55 km x 72 kms long, with active boiling mud pots, geysers, hot mineral pools, venting fumerholes in sulphur, gas, steam or all three… What? Why go there? You can get close to some of the most fantastic wildlife, like wolves and elk and bison that survive such unimaginable conditions.

Look, it was a legend 50+ years ago when I was a kid, to venture into the frozen Park in dead of winter to see the wildlife up close. For example, we were on the "Trail of the Wolf".. This is over three days, with 160 km snowmobile trek from one side of the Park to the other on tracks that only a snowmobile can get on to. Then up before dawn and into the Lamar Valley in search of the “Mollie Pack” of wolves, and then 53 kms back to the snow lodge.. This was just three of eleven days in and out of Yellowstone.

How do you do it in that weather? First: Base layers, then fleece, then Arctic Ice Armour pants and parkas, balaclava and ice goggles, doubled up thermal socks and ice boots, and still absorbing massive punishment...

Arctic Snow Cat and Snowmobile.. The animals and thermal events of the largest volcanic caldera in the world (worlds largest active volcano)... Sheer madness. Buffalo, Elk, Wolves, geysers, boiling mud pots, venting, sheer madness. I will post pictures as the Poll has been 90% in favour. No it is not Bushtracker stuff, but a majority have voted that they would like to see some of the pictures. No one who is not EXTREMELY FIT, should attempt this. The Altitude Sickness alone could kill you...

My old German Shepherd Dakota (Cody to most of you that know him) is getting ready to check out, and I have picked up a new 10 week old black pup of big square back working dog lines.. A good portion of the wolves are black and I just wanted to see the original ancestors in action... Not really a bucket list, just one of the legends I heard about as a kid.

Enjoy the pictures I will share here but: I am not sure I would recommend this trip to anyone else, unless you take up some serious physical conditioning and are willing to chance the weather. In ideal conditions, maybe a stay in a Lodge and a warm snowcoach trip would be OK. But getting more serious with four snowmobile expeditions is really tough if the weather turns bad. It is certainly memorable, but tough going, and I am not sure I would recommend it to anyone my age or older. Even with Survival warming huts and potbelly stoves kept going by the Rangers you can stop at every few hours, it is STILL tough going.
You have to find them first:



They are a life saver in a cold snap or a blizzard, when you can be out 100 kms..



In weather when even the waterfalls are mostly frozen... Rolling Eyes



The Snowmobile trips do allow travel to remote locations and roads not kept open, going over snow drifts and some fantastic places that are only accessible by snowmobile, but it hits the limits of endurance for people like myself that are not heavy snow winter conditioned already... Shocked



The beauty of it all is truly staggering, but the conditions were really arduous. One day we were out, the Ranger Station was reporting in the minus -33 and -36 degrees during that cold snap. If it continued there would be a lot of winter kill frozen for the bears and wolves to find when they came out in the spring. I can tell you that slogging through deep snow, just on dark, stopping to wheeze and cough in sub-freezing conditions with altitude sickness, sometimes you think you could be in that “winter kill” lot and not found til the spring thaw... Laughing Laughing Laughing

Especially, if you get caught out in a surprise heavy snow, it is almost WHITE OUT conditions...



Kind regards to all, stg

First Post in coming days: Animals
Second: Equipment
Third: Scenery…
Fourth: Thermal Events


Last edited by Bushtracker on Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bushtracker
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first few pictures are blue in tinge, for some reason they all came out that way once you get to about -20 to -30 degrees. Yes it is a bit weird, but this blue look is real, not an effect, at about 20 below freezing all the pictures came out like this first set of Buffalo (Bison) and Elk cows..







The volcanic thermal features like Hot Springs and geysers feed a couple of the rivers and this one was about 10 degrees above.
That was warm enough for year around occupation by these Trumpeter Swans.








The larger bodied animals live by pushing the snow away from the freeze dried dead grass below. Not much nutrition, but it keeps them going...
It is a side to side wave of their heads, pushing snow.. Hard living to make.







The Otters were facinating, a family fishing and playing together in these conditions... Not seen in summer...



Part two coming below


Last edited by Bushtracker on Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:35 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part two, of animal pictures...

The heavy snow looks colder, but that is actually when it warms up. The cloud cover holds the heat in...


















Hope you enjoy, these are not just any vacation photos to bore you with... Laughing

Coming will be volcanic features, equipment, and scenery to die for (thought I might at one point) Laughing

lone Ranger
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will admit, if I go back on Expedition I will definitely take a new style high end camera with some larger telephoto lenses... I will also say in Denver for a week until I can jog to get through the altitude sickness.. Laughing Shocked Cool

This little Nikon with about a 60 mm built in telephoto was good at 16 mega pixels, but it did not have the ability to catch some of the best shots like boiling mud in motion or high mountain top Bighorn Sheep... Here is what I have to share:

Thermal run off from geysers heating the river, and why it does not freeze:











Over heated water, boiling geyser blow out, with the "Blue Tinge" of minus 30 degrees....









"Old Faithful" in dead of winter... That is about 80 metres high at a guess, called Old Faithful as it erupts every 60-90 minutes with some degree of predictability depending on the size of the eruption... Roars..













These were steam and sulpher fumerholes that blew off 24/7 non stop, Norris Geyser Basin...



It is never ending, I hope this just gives you a taste of the Volcanic Caldera of Yellowstone... The "taste" is often rotten egg, sulpher gas... A glimpse of Hell leaking out.. Laughing

It is not all just scenic.. In 2011? Five Bison (Buffalo) died over night sleeping by a fumerhole hotspring for warmth, when there was an eruption of deadly hydrogen sulphide gas while they were asleep... Shocked

Yet to come, Equipment (no small matter)
and Scenery, (staggering)....

And a Tip, if you are crazy enough to go, don't do it without talking to me...
There are some Tips that will save you a lot of punishment... Or even your life.. Da lone Ranger sez: "Learn from those who went ahead to Blaze the Trail.." Wink

[b]Me standing by the snowmobile, out where only they can go out on the east side of Yellowstone..
My TWO LAYERS of gloves are off to take pictures:




How cold? That is my Daughter Jewel, standing in front of Yellowstone Lake, frozen over and buried in snow..




Kind regards..... From the mad ranger...
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are a lot pictures... If they are not all loading, keep trying to refresh, or wait until your Internet connection is stronger...

Here is the Transport sampling of pictures..
The Winter Tourists can go out in heated Snow Coaches:



Then the next stage of transport, is the converted F-250s and F-350s, wow, what a set of off-road tyres in a pinch.. Laughing Carry them around in the bed.. Laughing



The next stage, on tracks and sections of the park where they cannot go, and you are down to snowmobiles... But you need to be a bit more hearty... (Or crazy like me) And you can do Guided Expeditions into remote areas...





Then, if you are a Photographic Expedition with luggage, or transport in and out of Yellowstone Park, or we get a Blizzard like what happened to us, and you get into these Bombadiers.. They are a tracked ski steer Snow Cat, that will go where the Snow Coaches cannot, and the weather is too severe for snowmobiles.



When a massive storm hit, read blizzard, we were evacuated out in a Bomb at 5:30 in the morning... That or might not get out for a few days.. It was a near white out, the snow was already up to the door.. For two hours after dawn, our driver had trouble finding the road.. Laughing



Anyway, my Daughter Jewel and I got out, caught our first of four planes.... And made it back.. First is a view in between windshield wiper strokes.. Second is our arrival back at a lodge in West Yellowstone, outside of the Park when the snow let up for a few minutes..

After that much snow you can't help but think: God Bless Australia.. !!!



What do you think? You want more of this, as in some scenery pictures?
Save them for a hot day.. Laughing Laughing Laughing Cool
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Jeff&Narelle@Alice



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great - keep them comming. Smile
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Devils On The Prowl



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Still waiting Steve, for more of the above.
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Grumblebum and the Dragon



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great to see nature at its rawest - me I'm a more tropical animal - remote coasts, sand, fish and crabs etc and just living in a pair of shorts!

John
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