Through the final mountain passes, and into the high mountain plain that is Yellowstone

Not yet there, but very nearly. This is part of the Shoshonee National Forest. This is the eastern border of Yellowstone, a series of alpine passes, and twisting mountain roads.
There is a rainbow in this photo, though it did not record very well. 
This was taken just after entering the park. This was the more scenic, but less geologically interesting, East end of the park. Travel through these high passes takes you to a high mountain plateau, which is the part of Yellowstone with which most people are familiar. I can almost smell the pervasive odor of pine needles, which I will forever associate with the West. 
My first view of a thermal area. This particular collection of springs, and other thermal features, was adjacent to Yellowstone Lake.
This  is Old Faithful, getting ready to erupt. In the summer months, I would be lucky to get within 100 yards of this marvel.
More thermal areas, near Yellowstone Lake. The sign in the foreground is no joke. It warns visitors to stay on the paths, in the thermal areas. Failure to do so, will get you arrested in a big hurry. If you are unlucky, you will put your foot through the thin crust over the thermal areas, and emerse yourself in scalding water.
Here is Old Faithful again, looking a little more like what we have come to expect. 
Yet another shot of Old Faithful. What can I tell you? No trip to Yellowstone is complete without seeing the most famous geyser in the world. No Yellowstone photo album is complete without several shots of it in various stages of eruption. 
The Firehole River. This mountain river eventually empties into the Missouri, which I had crossed days ago. The Missouri, in turn, empties into the Mississippi, which I had crossed the previous week. Perhaps I should just jump in the water, and let it take me back home. 
A thermal pool, one of many such, breaking up the geyser basins. 
Oops, another photo of Old Faithful, this time in it's full glory. I just wanted to make certain that I got at least one good picture of it. 
A view of the forest edge, taken from the midst of one of the geyser basins. Just short of the mid ground, can be seen some scaled areas, which should give a pretty good idea of how fragile, and brittle the thin crusted ground is, in these areas.
The water in this pool seems to be boiling, but the ranger who walked us through these areas assured us that it was merely scalding. The bubbles are a result of the extreme pressure under witch the water is kept, deeper in the Earth. When it surfaces there is much gas coming up with it, and many dissolved gasses, as well as minerals, which are released.
Another overview of a thermal area. There is steam rising from numerous places on the plain, and hot water oozes out of the ground, depositing more material on the crust of ground. 
A particularly deep, and colorful pool. Off in the background, you can see one of the many geyser basins which spring up in portions of the park. 
Yet another colorful pool. Though there are many colored minerals dissolved in these waters, we were told that most of the colors come from heat loving algae and bacteria which are able to thrive in these environments. 
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