July 22nd, 2010

Tropical Oasis

A short distance outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a small town of Kelly. Approximately a mile away, following the road to Slide Lake, is a small pond. At first glance, it appears to be just an ordinary pond with weed covered edges. However, closer inspection reveals something quite out of the ordinary. Many pockets of bubbles arise throughout one end of the pond. Stick your little toe into the water and you discover the water is warm. Warm water is flowing out of the ground! They have named this little pond Kelly Hot Springs.

If you ever happen to be in the Grand Teton National Park, take the time to drive out and have a look at the Kelly Hot Springs. On the way you might see a moose or two, pronghorns, and possibly a herd of bison. Take along your swim suits and take a dip in the pond (there is a parking lot with a nice toilet facility right there).  For a real treat, take a dive mask and snorkel. You will be amazed at what you will find … TROPICAL FISH!

For many years the locals, tiring of the upkeep and maintenance of their aquariums, have been dumping the tropical fish into the pond. The fish have found this pond quite to their liking. Even in the winter the water is warm. If you quietly float along, trying not to stir up too much mud from the bottom, you might see 6 to seven different species of tropical fish. You might also see some yellow perch and large gold fish. If you stick around long enough you might even see some novice kayakers learning to do an Eskimo roll.

This last week on vacation, I had my grandkids out at Kelly Hot Springs. They were having a ball. As I floated along I began to ponder … if this little patch of water was rapidly buried and all the little critters fossilized, how would evolutionary scientist interpret the evidence? Would they say it was an ancient sea where sword-tails (the precursor of a rainbow trout?) flourished? I had to be careful not to smile too big – I did have a snorkel in my mouth!

Lanny Johnson

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