Saturday, September 29, 2012
Old Faithful

    In Paradise Valley, meadows fade to gold while pronghorn and deer graze between irrigators. Cottonwoods along the Yellowstone River slowly change color from the top down. Their caps are bright yellow while the rest of the canopy is bright green. Some aspen appear to be on fire.
   The sun begins to go down as we finally reach the Park. Big horn rams graze on the rocky slopes above the Gardner River. A flock of ewes bunches up where the road meets the river. In Mammoth elk wander across the road and between the buildings. A cow walks in front of us near the Magistrate's house, her coat full and healthy, a rich red-brown fading to light gray-brown. Elk are huge, but it takes standing only yards away to feel how big. Her calf follows her, a smaller, lighter version of its mother. The calf, quite large, darts under its mother and tries to nurse. At first it succeeds, but then the cow jumps away and walks on to graze. The grove of aspen south of the upper terraces is bright yellow on top of slender white and black trunks. The weather is perfect - 50 or so and sunny.
   The drive to Old Faithful at dusk seems long. Looking out at Gibbon Meadows in evening shadows I think of times I just sat here staring out, looking, waiting for something to happen. A flock of geese flies in a line above the meadow, landing across the road. A full moon shines already, glowing above a solitary bison near Nez Perce Creek.
   Late tonight we watch Old Faithful erupt. The sound of steaming water interrupts the peace. After sending warning puffs of clouds upward and outward, water bubbles out of the geyser and shoots streams of water straight up toward the sky. It's much more fun to watch at night: clouds in the darkness drifting, the sound of water shooting into the air, the stars, the full moon. Walking back from the Inn, a coyote trots past us next to the boardwalk. He is almost the size of a wolf, but his quick trot gives him away. He noses through the grass and disappears in the shadows.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2012