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mammoth terraces

Yellowstone in Winter

“Not Goodbye, Just See You Later”

It has been a bittersweet day, to say the least. While we watched for wildlife in Lamar Valley before dawn, the magnitude of the moment sat heavy with us. This would be our last trip to the valley. Luckily, the wildlife did not disappoint. We were able to see many moose, big horn sheep, bison, foxes, coyotes, and even a golden eagle! A raven put on quite the show for us as we watched for wolves at Tower Junction, the first place the Wapiti Pack graced us with their presence.

Raven on snow

A raven checks out the team as we scan the horizon for wolves. Ravens are bigger than our crows, and have deeper croaking calls.

This afternoon we were joined by Ranger Mike as we walked through the Mammoth Terraces. This is such a unique, ever-changing geologic feature. As calcium carbonate precipitates out of the hot water, new rocks are formed here daily, creating stair step features that accumulate rapidly (sometimes more than six feet a year)! It really looked like something from another planet. Ranger Mike was very knowledgeable about the park, and gave us a great demonstration of how geysers work. His humor and quick wit made learning about the terraces even more fun!

A group of people overlooking mammoth terraces

Surveying the seemingly alien landscape of Mammoth Terraces.

As our time in Yellowstone drew to a close, a somber mood fell over the group. We approached the archway of the northeast entrance, and many a tear began to flow. Katherine read us one final quote in the park.

“Thousands of tired, nerve shaken, overcivilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home: That wildness is a necessity; that mountain parks are reservations useful not only as foundations of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

– John Muir

With Yellowstone in the rear view mirror, and with very heavy hearts, we said goodbye to this magical, transformative place.

Mammoth Terraces

Mammoth Terraces

Many tears and heartfelt reflections were shared at our final group meeting. It is very clear that we have forged powerful, lasting bonds with our teammates. We have supported and uplifted each other, validated each other in our individual journeys on this trip, and built a truly unique safe space where our vulnerabilities made us a stronger team. Going our separate ways is going to be tough, but we will stay connected and always be in each other’s hearts.

To both our team and Yellowstone ….. this isn’t goodbye, just see you later.