After the Mammoth Upper Loop (will post it later), Norris was next on our list. Parking was a concern and we had to wait about 15 minutes for someone to pull out of their space in the RV lot.
Norris Geyser Basin is one of the hottest and acidic of Yellowstone's hydrothermal areas. Many of the hot springs and fumaroles here have temps above the boiling point. Norris is near the intersection of 3 major faults.
Norris has the greatest water chemistry diversity among Yellowstone's hydrothermal areas. Many of the colors you see here are evidence of thermophiles (heat-loving microorganisms) and their activity. Yellow deposits here typically contain sulfur. Dark brown, rust, and red colors abound in Norris and contain varying amounts of iron. Emerald-green mats or Algae are the dominant life forms in these mats and contain chlorophyll, a green pigment that helps convert sunlight to energy. Dark blackish-green mats form in even cooler water. An alga called Zygogonium forms these communities of mats and streamers.
We headed into the Porcelain Basin
first with a bunch of French-speaking tourists. The "ooo la la" gave them away. Your view from the top of the stairway just teases you as you walk down onto the boardwalk of the basin. We hung a right and headed toward Porcelain Springs
just soaking in all of the colors and sounds and sites with the mountains in the distance as we passed by Hurricane Vent. We traced our steps back and continued on the boardwalk over E Fork Tantalus Creek; probably the most colorful creek a person could ever see caused by the runoff channels of Whirlgig
and Pinwheel Geysers
. We passed by Crackling Lake and Ledge Geyser
as we made our way up to Back Basin.
Believe it or not, it was a tad warm so we were glad to get to walk in the shade of the vibrant green pine trees of Back Basin
. We soon came upon more geysers scattered about including the bubbling Minute
and the now blown up Porkchop Geysers
. Every geyser seemed to have its own personality which would definitely be true of the Green Dragon Spring
followed by Puff 'n Stuff Geyser
. Some were more active than others, some more beautiful, some more noisy, some more subtle... you name it. Speaking of names, what fun that must have been to name the geysers.
We eventually wound our way to two of the more famous geysers in the Back Basin: Echinus Geyser
- fountain geyser was named during one of the U.S. Geological Surveys of the park in the late 1870s or early 1880s. The name Echinus comes from the spiny appearance of the cone that resembles a Sea urchin. Echinus is the largest acid-water geyser in the world. Its waters have a pH of 3.3 to 3.6, nearly as acidic as vinegar
- a cone geyser (last erupted Sept 2014), the world's tallest currently-active geyser. During major eruptions, water may be thrown more than 300 feet into the air but not today. We did get some little rockets. Interestingly though Cistern Spring
, located nearby, will drain completely during a major eruption (that can occur between 4 days or 50 years!); the spring refills within a few days.
On the last bit of our hike we passed by a beautiful spring, Emerald
: The spring gets its name from the emerald green color of the water created by sunlight filtering through the water, giving the light a blue color, and reflecting off the yellow sulphur creating the green hue. We still had lots to do today so we hustled back to Snowball, ate some lunch and hit the road again for our second visit to Old Faithful but not without first stopping at Midway Geyser Basin.
5 videos from this hike that include pictures and movies, I think you'll enjoy the movies altho I did have to fight the wind noise so there will be music from time to time:
Part 1 includes the drive to the Basin from Mammoth and the start of our hike into Porcelain Basin https://youtu.be/2I ... 9hqg
Part 2 Porcelain Basin https://youtu.be/40 ... zxd0
Part 3 Porcelain to Back https://youtu.be/fy ... LtI0
Part 4 Porkchop to Echinus https://youtu.be/Iu ... TImE
Part 5 Echinus and Steamboat Geyser https://youtu.be/ol ... x6V8