Today was a bit different for us.
This morning, we checked out of the Mammoth Hotel and boarded a monster truck-like snow coach headed to Old Faithful. Chelsea, our coach guide, was incredibly informative throughout the day. Because we were on a commercial snow vehicle, we were able to take roads that are closed to all others.
Today, we traveled back in time – geologic time. We had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the fire and ice that has sculpted what is now Yellowstone National Park over millions of years.
In addition to understanding the geologic processes that shaped the landscape of the park, we also got to walk around and witness present day geologic activity through hydrothermal features. Our first feature of the day was called Dragon’s Mouth, and it was a fitting name. As we walked across the boardwalk, a deeply felt growl was audible to our ears and our souls. This phenomenon is caused by steam and other gasses exploding through the water causing it to crash against the walls of hidden caverns, resulting in a fearful rumble that can be heard from many yards away. Chelsea shared a origin story from the Kiowa people that is tied to this thermal feature in which a young boy conquered his fear to gain access to a new landscape.
Another highlight from today was the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Randy gave us an amazing lesson on art by Thomas Moran that was inspired by Yellowstone landscapes. It was an incredible view that most all of us considered “indescribable.” Chelsea also gave us an inside look at how subnivean (under snow) micro habitats are affected by climate change.
Once we finally made it to the lodge, we had a very emotional reflection on our day. We are so appreciative for this opportunity and the people we have shared it with. As we prepare for the last leg of our trip, we are going to bed with full hearts (and bellies) and gratitude for this amazing experience.