A Mystical Wonderland
After a long day of driving, passing through at least three of the northern Sates, we finally arrived at Yellowstone National Park. Too early in the season to find accommodation inside the park and too late at night to turn back for a motel, we decided to make ourselves comfortable in the car. Well, as comfortable as three people can be in a packed Prius surrounded by the early spring snow. We didn’t mind all too much, we had reached Yellowstone.
We woke up to a freezing morning, joints stiff from many days a driving. Making breakfast with whatever was left in the car, we opened our map to see where the day would take us. Still sleepy, I found myself surrounded by the travertine terraces of the Mammoth Hot Springs. Limestone layers, ranging from creamy whites to rusty reds made for a fine introduction to this mystical wonderland.
Making our way south, we passed by frozen lakes, grey as the sky above. The whole park was still in a haze after its winter hibernation. Steam was escaping into the sombre sky from obscure puddles and hidden amongst the mist, the bison stood sternly in their woolly coats. We were inside a giant caldera, surrounded by boiling springs and bubbling mudpots with hydrogen sulphide clinging to the air. What an unusual place to find oneself in.
We arrived at the upper geyser basin, wrapped in our rain coats. Gigantic geysers, exploded gallons of boiling water into the air, while walkways snaked through more geothermal features. Beyond the walkways, more paths spread out to be explored. One of these led us to the Solitary Geyser where we were treated to a private show.
At the midway geyser basin, more gems lied scattered around us. Turquoise pools sparkled as we made our way to the Grand Prismatic Spring, where a drop of rainbow, had spilt onto the ground. Mesmerised, I found myself once again between the pages of a National Geographic magazine.
Late afternoon was spent driving through the Blacktail Deer Plateau in search of animals. We were in the great outdoors and I wanted to see bears and wolves and elk and bison and beavers and moose and all things North America had to offer. It was at a bridge in the Tower-Roosevelt area where we found ourselves staring down at a mama black bear and her two babies grazing in the gully. Until that day I had never seen a bear in the wild. My day was complete. I needed nothing more.
As the day was almost coming to an end, we parked our car close to Slough Creek to take a little walk into the wild. Warming ourselves with whisky, we wandered off in search of the perfect view. Grassy flats gave way to wooded hills with snow-capped mountains on the horizon. I remember a river in the picture as well. The three of us were from three different continents and met each other years before on the other side of the world. Now we were together again, sharing a new adventure. As we stood there, time ceased to exist for a while and we could only but stare off into the distance, hearts beating warmly.
Driving back, the park treated us to one last surprise. Simultaneously, the three of us caught a glimpse of movement in the distance towards the left. Stopping the car, we stared in silence as a lone black wolf running across the plateau came to a rest at a small lake. Canis lupus. The shadowy creature lingered for a while and we shared a moment in silence before he disappeared into the dusk. Now, the day was complete.