yellowstone

No one warned me the park reeked of rotten eggs combined with the scent of bright pine. Rivers boiled, firmament steamed, golden mud perked, colorful algae glowed and streams dramatically plunged in this belching landscape. Clouds cleaved the mountains and glistening river valleys provided tasty habitat for wildlife. I craved deviled eggs the entire trip.

oldfaithful
Aren’t you smart?! It IS Old Faithful with Old Faithful Lodge in the background. We walked a very isolated trail up a mountainside to get this view. Worth it….even though we forgot our bear spray and I chirped ‘Hey, bear!’ as we walked to frighten away predators. The Texan was not amused. This Lower Geyser basin is brimming with geysers for miles.

robingrottoI had to look up the term ‘caldera’ to be sure I understood the grand views are perched atop a  volcano with an enormous, active magma chamber below. If it blows, like it did 600,000 years ago, it will affect most of the United States and change life as we know it. This is climate change I can understand.

norrisgeyserbasin
Norris Geyser Basin. The hottest springs and fumaroles in the Park. Rudyard Kipling remarked after his visit, “The uplands of Hell. It was as though the tide of desolation had gone out….a mud volcano spat filth to Heaven, streams of hot water rumbled underfoot….pink pools roared, shouted, bubbled or hissed as their wicked fancies prompted.”

The geyser/fumaroles/hot spring areas provided endless fascination to us. The angry earth grumbled, fumed and sputtered. Amidst the tantrums, we discovered visions and colors of indescribable beauty and tranquility.

hotspring
The fantastic colors as they appeared to us. No color boosting…..promise.

Mud was the artist’s pallet for the putrid water.

patterninriver
The sulphuric steam wafting from the hot features can permanently damage a camera lens. I was told to keep the lens cap on and to always wipe the lens after taking pictures of these features.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Great Falls are crowd favorites.

riverwithmist
The Yellowstone River before it spills over the Lower Falls.

lowerfalls

canyon
Thomas Moran, the first artist to explore the Yellowstone, bemoaned his palette didn’t contain enough colors to render this scene.

I donned a sling to support my jaw. The constant gaping provided a fine mosquito and gnat habitat. I can’t help myself…..I’m a passionate, romantic person. There’s no way I can gaze upon these scenes and pronounce, ‘Meh.’

groundsquirrel

The grand and the small astonished me. The wildlife roamed and rambled and I tried to follow the wonder with my borrowed spotting scope.

buffaloinroad
Just a photo taken through the windshield with a cellphone. The Lamar Valley was soul-stirring. It was my favorite portion of the Park. I’m planning my next trip back there.

There’s definitely a crowding issue at Yellowstone that must be addressed in a fair manner. I don’t know the answer, but the current influx of people doesn’t seem sustainable to me. That’s a discussion for another blog post. The Texan and I navigated by getting up EARLY….very early, and staying through sunset. Most mid-days we lunched by a stream with our lawn chairs or took a drive off the beaten path. The Park is very crowded between 10 am and 4 pm.

 

guystakingpicture
Buffalo are a favorite. The Europeans and Asians want to see buffalo….the iconic symbol of the West. The shaggy giants never disappoint as they appear everywhere around the park. I can still conjure their low-pitched grumbling.

Yellowstone made me feel small…like a pimple on the butt of the universe. Ok….maybe not a pimple, but certainly a freckle on the tapestry of time. Where was I when forces were forming the landscape 1,200,000 years ago? What of the Native Peoples who inhabited this land? What of the explorers and early trappers who tried to describe the indescribable to others? For me, our Yellowstone visit highlighted the infinite creativity of the Creator. I’m thrilled to witness the handiwork.

2017-08-14 06.45.58
Taken with cell phone attached to a spotting scope mounted on a tripod. Thanks Drummond! I’ll return your scope soon!!

The morning we left the park, I whined to the Texan I had not seen a grizzly bear. I’ve witnessed black bears, but I longed to see a grizzly. How totally complete and awesome would this trip be if I could spot a grizzly? We scouted around the morning we left, looking at likely spots by the Yellowstone River for wildlife. Just then, we drove upon some ‘scopers’ who were looking at an elk carcass. We rolled the window down in time to hear, ‘the grizzly is coming!’ We shot out of the car in different directions. I grabbed the binoculars and spied an elk herd upstream in the river. As I panned the binoculars, I spotted the hump-backed, powerful beast. He swam the river and was now determinedly loping across the meadow toward something. I feared he might be loping in my direction until I spotted the carcass. The Texan and I found each other and excitedly attached my phone to the scope.

2017-08-16 10.09.54

We observed this guy for an hour as he devoured this decomposing carcass. I’m happy I didn’t unexpectedly meet him in the forest. Trip made and complete.

If you are reading this, you are either a rabid nature-lover or you are completely bored on a Friday evening. Welcome to my world!

Hope these views inspire you. I want to show you Arches National Park in Moab, Utah in the coming days.

Did Thoreau ever see Yellowstone? ‘This Mother of ours…..lying around in all her beauty.’

Hope you see something wonderful this weekend! Spouting geysers of love to all!