Geoff returns and makes one of the great parks his playground

Geoff Carter and Todmorden U3A vice-chairman Colin Crane
Geoff Carter and Todmorden U3A vice-chairman Colin Crane

Geoff Carter made a welcome return visit to Todmorden U3A at their January general meeting exactly a year hence from his last.

Previously, he had given a talk on Antarctica; this time his talk was on a very different place: Yellowstone Park, USA. Most of Yellowstone is situated in Wyoming, with small portions in Montana and Idaho, and is a 7,000 foot high plateau about the size of Yorkshire, surrounded by mountains.

Its terrain is varied, with forests covering 80 per cent of the park, the rest being grassland, open expanses and valleys which are home to bison, moose, elk and various types of antelope. Other wildlife includes red squirrels, chipmunks, coyotes and wolves. Brown bears and grizzlies can also be seen but the latter are dangerous and best avoided - four people were eaten last year with 15 attacks on humans. Rivers are plentiful, which in some places flow sedately but at others rush through gorges and plunge over waterfalls of which there are 290.

Perhaps the park is most famous for its geysers, and contains the world’s greatest concentration of hot springs. Old Faithful is the one most people know of: on average it erupts about every 92 minutes, and shoots water 135 feet into the air, but has been known to erupt as high as 190 feet.

The park contains nearly 10,000 geothermal features, including fumaroles, hot springs, mud pots, vents and pools. Steam vents are often referred to as fumaroles. A fumarole is like a hot spring, but with less water and a lot more heat. They are so hot that what little water there is boils away before reaching the surface. The result is a hissing steam vent. Lakes are also a feature, the largest being Yellowstone Lake. At 20 miles across it is almost an inland sea with 110 miles of shoreline.

Yellowstone attracts about two million visitors a year who are able to enjoy the kinds of outdoor activities one would expect: camping, hiking, fishing, mountaineering and boating on Yellowstone Lake. Boating is restricted on the rivers. The variety and beauty of the landscape of Yellowstone was conveyed by photos Geoff had taken, and as he did last year, Geoff laced his talk with some much appreciated humour.