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West ThumbWhile Mr. Gecko’s parents were here a few weeks ago, we took them up into Yellowstone for the day. We had gone to Old Faithful and some of the other geyser basins on their last trip here, so this time we visited (mostly) new things. Our first stop was West Thumb Geyser Basin. Mud ConeWest Thumb is a smaller geyser basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. It was a cool morning, so there was lots of steam. This part was a couple of hot springs and some mud cones. The mud cones used to shoot mud into the air, but they don’t anymore.DSC_0106The shore of Yellowstone Lake on a cool, misty morning. The board walk path through the geyser area takes you right to the lake shore, but this is not a good area for going off-trail.DSC_0118The thermal features here extend under the surface of the lake. In the winter, underwater geysers melt holes in the ice.DSC_0146The hot springs here are smaller than some of the ones in the other geyser basins, but they still have the beautiful bacterial growth around the edges. Fishing ConeThis is Fishing Cone. People used to fish for trout in the lake, then drop the fish into the hot water of the cone to cook it on the line. Fishing is no longer allowed here; hot springs are delicate enough that putting anything into the cone can cause a lot of damage. DSC_0159This is Black Pool. It used to be black from bacterial growth, but changes in the temperature of the water killed off those bacteria, and now the pool only grows things at the edges. DSC_0172Elk and other wildlife hang out in the thermal areas when it is cold outside. These two were not bothered by all the people taking their picture. DSC_0191Thermal areas fascinate me, and this one was no exception. Though it doesn’t have any active geysers, it’s got quite a lot going on. Stay tuned for the rest of our day in Yellowstone…