At the foot of the gorge and on the margin of the Yellowstone stood a high promontory of concretionary lava, literally filled with volcanic butternuts. Many of these were loose, and could be taken out of the rock with the hand; broken open they were invariably hollow, and lined with minute quartz crystals of various tints. This formation is rare, but occurs frequently in the great basin. From the outer point of this promontory can be seen the foot of the upper fall of the Yellowstone, and I climbed to the summit to obtain a view.
After ascending about 600 feet a plateau is reached overlooking the cataract, which is inaccessible at its brink without the use of ropes. The river comes down for over half a mile above over a series of lava ledges, each terminating in a fall of from 10 to 15 feet; of these there are five. Then with a tremendous current, and confined in a rocky channel, narrowed to a space of 80 feet, it is hurled from the brink of a perpendicular wall, a sheer descent of 115 feet. So rapid is the current that the great mass of foam shoots out clear of the rock and falls far out in its basin, striking upon a covered ledge at an angle which causes a portion of the water to be projected like a broad fan into the air, with a hissing sound to the distance of 60 feet, and afterward dissolving into clouds of spray. The depth of water on the brink is about 4 feet, and the concussion of the fall is tremendous. A lava promontory overhangs the basin on either side, giving fine opportunities for observation. After watching the rushing waters for an hour, other members of the party arrived, with whom I returned to camp.
Barometer, 22.60; thermometer, 46°; elevation,
7,697 feet. Go
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