Visiting Washburn Hot Springs in the Winter, February 2016
Most hot spring research in YNP happens during the summer when it is relatively easy to access the hot springs. In this case, we wanted to see if the Washburn thermal system changed chemically and biologically across seasons, so we made a plan to visit it in February. First, I recruited a rag-tag team of strength and skill: Dr. Dana Skorupa, Prof. Ross Carlson, Ryan Mitchell, and Thompson Limanek. This may have been the most difficult physical thing I've ever done and I seriously could not have completed this trip without these amazing people. We drove 1.5hr from Bozeman to Gardner at the northern entrance to YNP where we got fitted up with some snowmobiles. We rode 40 miles from Mammoth Hot Springs to Canyon where we ditched our rides and suited up in ski gear. We then skied, pulling sleds full of scientific and camping gear 5 miles before it got dark and we had to set up camp on 3 feet of snow. The next morning we skied the remaining 1.5 miles to the hot springs, took samples for about 1 hour, and then turned around and did it all again.