I was very excited to venture into Yellowstone National Park today. The day started cold and overcast and I got a late start dealing with arbitrary family stuff. So I had to plan a shorter day than I would have expected. Regardless, I knew I would love whatever experience I was about to have.
The Mammoth Hot Spring Terrace was the first phenomena I came across and definitely one of my favorite. I got my first taste of the ancient sulphuric vapors as I walked past the Liberty Cap into the exposed underworld trickling through its skin. I walked along the Upper Terrace where there were a number of other mystic pools layered with the coral-like bacterias entombed in calcite and various other minerals. I turned a quick corner on the path to find myself filling my lungs with the fresh pine air coming from the twisted skeletal juniper trees mingled among the pools.
The Orange Spring Mound was a formation after my own heart. From its side flows a trickling stream sliding down a pale yellow sulphur deposit. As the mass gurgles with the deep hollow hunger rising from the belly of a giant, the mound’s skin also constantly grows, thickening with minerals from the earth’s interior. It has the charm of a drooling, snoring elephant.
Though the elephant lost the race for my heart. It was far outpaced by the stoic bison working the plains like a patient buffet enthusiast. He was quite accustomed to an audience so I was able to get close enough to hear him ripping chunks of grass. I immediately understood the sacredness of this animal when he raised his head to acknowledge my glance. It’s a feeling; there is no real explanation other than experience. There were a number of small herds, from bison to elk and antelope, throughout the park roaming without fear. I felt tthat over time we have learned to fear animals, but honestly we really only need to be cautious. Fear causes us to disconnect. And besides, humans are the only species that will attack for sport, all other animals are merely defensive. When I ran into a rattlesnake a few days ago in South Dakota, it gave us a very loud and long warning, a warning of its own fright and its potential intent if we pushed it. There is always a sign and if you don’t see it, welcome to natural selection; we’ve done a lot to overcome it but it still plays its part when we become too unaware.
I ended my journey at Old Faithful. I pulled up as the giant was spitting out his finale so I didn’t see it at it’s peak. I was fine with that. It is quite awe inspiring but I had seen a number of other amazing sites that day that I found far more emotive. Perhaps it was the size of the crowd and the intense development around the extreme geyser that took some of mysticism out of the experience. I took a lot of wonderful photos of seemingly lesser beauties and I am quite content with the time I spent quietly contemplating the depths of the Emerald Pool and the colorful swirls of microscopic life that started it all. The image here is of one of the Fountain Paint Pools, similar to the Emerald Pool but less dark and mysterious.