Bubble, Bubble Toil and Trouble. It’s odd to see mud boil and bubble. But here in Yellowstone it’s a daily occurrence. These are the mud pots of the West Thumb basin. They bubble and hiss and pile up like anthills with that distinctive smell, that sulphurish smell belching forth from the vast caldera below.
This night a storm front had moved through and there was distant lightning to the SE (seen as a line of clouds on the horizon.) Once again this seems to have kicked the airglow into overdrive, with all the images of this night showing incredible depth and banding of airglow with strong aurora to the North (left side).
It’s fun in June to have a bit of time before the Milky Way rises high enough to image well. I sat on a bench overlooking the main area of West Thumb, snacking on a Cliff bar awaiting the night. As the sun had set I was greeted by a crowd. First of photographers taking evening shots of the lake Yellowstone, but then by an elk. And then two, three, four and finally dozens appeared out of the shadows to slake their thirst and stand near the warm springs and steamy surroundings.
I found their cries, after dark had settled around me, oddly comforting. I wondered were their loved ones lost or were they warning of my presence? They kept me company for sometime as I awaited going to work.
The sky had cleared out, as predicted. Altair had reached a height that indicated it was time to gather up my gear and get to my first shooting location of the night, This, the mudpots, was to be my last. I wasn’t sure how well the images would translate. The water that looks pretty reflective in this image was much less so in person.
The constant 35 degree breeze kept my cheeks tingling and the water rippling. When the temperature drops into the 30s, as it does here virtually every night, I have to remind myself that the wet spots on walkways actually often become ice. After unceremoniously being dumped on my butt by just such a patch, I considered my luck that the camera was already setup and not in my hands. After doing the splits and then a successful dismount to my butt the Russian judge gave me a 9.1 but I think he was biased.
West Thumb at Yellowstone National park info:
WEST THUMB PAINT POTS
Temperature 187-199.8 Dimensions 30 feet diameter. These mud pots were originally named Mud Puffs by the 1878 Hayden Survey. The Paint Pots were one of the highlights for early tourists. They ventured to West Thumb by stagecoach from the Upper Geyser Basin and explored West Thumb’s thermal features. From there they continued their journey by boat across Yellowstone Lake to Lake Hotel. Since the discovery of West Thumb Geyser Basin, the Paint Pots have been an active and fascinating feature of the basin. They were very similar to the Fountain Paint Pots, and they were known for the large mud cones produced by midsummer as the mud thickened. The paint pots began changing during the 1970s as roads and buildings were removed adjacent to the paint pots. Ground water now floods and inundates the pots, producing a soupy, bubbly, frothy spring.
Technical: Canon 6D ISO 8000 35mm, 25 images 5×5 matrix, f 1.8