I had to start over entirely with this post, as my first attempt was more about the chattering crowds than what they, and I, went there to experience. So we’re a bit out of order.
Yellowstone is like visiting another planet. The whole area, surrounded by the raised sides of an ancient, and still active volcano is geographically isolated. Where the river falls through one side of the bowl and spills down a forbidding canyon with steam rising from the bottom, you can imagine Coleridge writing …”the scared river runs through caverns measureless to man down to a sunless sea”.
Nowhere else on earth are there even a fraction of the steam vents and geysers and bubbling hot springs and mud cauldrons that appear everywhere in Yellowstone, spitting sulfur and creating cascades of mineral terraces steaming with boiling hot water from the center of the earth.
And the lake! Yellowstone Lake is like Jules Verne’s ocean at the center of the earth. Clear as glass, and deadly cold when the wind suddenly raises waves that can capsize the boats of those fooled by its pristine beauty into venturing out unprepared.
Watching the bison, elk and bear go about their business, oblivious of the human hordes snapping pictures, you can easily imagine a time when they’re still here and man is not.
The cold clear night sky is so dark the stars – billions of them – seem to be all woven together into a sparkling fabric. Then out of nowhere the morning brings a blanket of snow.
This is a place of dreams, where every turn shows another meadow stretching for miles, or a hidden canyon that suddenly turns a sleepy meandering river into a torrent coursing along vertical rock walls.
It takes a few days to get ones breath back after wandering through Yellowstone. But it’s a journey, I think, that changes ones view of the world.