A chill wind, a towering band of mountains, a light snowfall, the distinct scent of lush green pines, maybe a curious bear in the tree line if you’re lucky. These are among the first things that herald you as you pass through the small eastern gate of Yellowstone National Park and into a world where nature is dominant; where nature presides unhindered over its majestic lands.
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Notably, there is silence.
As we drove, huddled in the truck that was pulling our petite camper, I peered out the window, pressing my cheek against the icy glass. The sight that greeted me was unlike any I had ever witnessed in person. A vast expanse of water (Yellowstone Lake), laid out on the earth like a mirror, reflected the glancing beams of sunlight in a beautiful array, and ran to the feet of mountains, capped in snow, and looming with fortitude.
We arrived in the Fishing Bridge camping grounds, nestled safely away in the hillsides, and parked our vehicles, exhausted from the long day’s drive. Since the evening would be falling soon, we set up camp, discussing the beautiful landscape, and the impressive buffalo we had seen roaming in the grass. Before I went to bed that night, I sat outside in the dusk considering my surroundings. “This is a land that, for once, belonged to nature rather than human urbanization” I thought. “And what a place this is!”
Throughout our stay we visited a handful of the many landmarks in the park, all of which were just as gorgeous and amazing as the park itself. About 16 miles from our camp, our first stop was “The Little Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone, and, as the name suggests, it was much like a child canyon of the Arizonian one we know so well. The expansive width and breadth of this cut in the earth was impressive, and the rainbows generated by the rising mist of waterfalls added an almost heavenly touch to the scene. Combined with the red and white stone, green trees, fresh air, and eagle flying over, it was almost unreal. Another, perhaps , more amazing sight was Yellowstone National Park’s all too famous Old Faithful. Around this massive geyser were myriad smaller ones- only a fraction of the size of their master. Between the crystal clear acid pits, boiling reflective pools, and steamy mystical air that hung around the waiting crowd gathered for the inevitable explosion of steam and water, I had a hard time deciding whether this was a place of beauty or danger. Imaginably both. Regardless, when the old geyser went up, it was as if the land itself was proclaiming that it was alive indeed. We left astounded.
Though, on the way back to camp, there was a wolf.
While my parents got out of the truck to take a picture, I stood on the side of the road – just watching the animal. Chasing a chipmunk, the predator pounced and killed its prey.
And then there was a moment.
As I watched, the wolf turned and looked me in the eye. With blood on its chops and its food in its mouth, it turned again and darted away.
Later, when we returned to our camp, I thought about what had happened, what I had seen through my stay, and what had finally clicked in my head. I sat out at dusk again. And that evening – I saw a world hidden from sight. I listened to the silence of a deafening forest. I stood in the solitude of a land fully inhabited with life.
Truly, we are minute.
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