Published: July 19th 2008June 27th 2008
I can only imagine how this intriguing landscape of geysers, hot pools, waterfalls and the canyon's naked yellow rock struck the first human beings who arrived at this place many thousands of years ago. For the native North American tribes this was holly land, an utmost sacred place; a gift of Mother Nature they worshiped and which resources they used respectfully.
To European explorers and settlers it also must have been a striking surprise to see such an array of extraordinary natural features concentrated in one place. Unfortunately the explorers looked at this scenery in a completely different way from the native's perspective. One of the explorers is known for having reported they had reached a land where boiling water, steam and bubbling mud came up straight from the centre of the earth, as if hell had literary broken loose! Hell was most certainly what Europeans were bringing upon the natives. This sacred place saw its worshipers been ruthlessly killed and driven away. A bloody war announced the arrival of civilization. 'Progress' was reaching the wild West: deforestation and hunting would start taking place, leading many animals to the brink of extinction.
In 1872, Yellowstone was established as
the world's first national park, an idea that has become a land-use model for many nations. The park inspires awe in travelers from around the world. The geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mud pots are powered by the same magmatic heat which powered three huge volcanic eruptions in the past, shaping the central portion of the park in a 30- by 45-mile crater basin.
I had a fantastic time admiring the scenery, though there were too many tourists on sight: hundreds of people strolling on tidy boardwalks, sitting comfortably with their cameras in front of geysers, checking their watches for the next eruption and complaining it was taking too long, or even worse, driving their cars through the park endlessly, creating long traffic jams whenever an animal could be photographed from inside their cars.
The Yellowstone geysers are spectacular! The mud pots and fumaroles are so interesting and the hot pools are lovely colourful displays of intricate bacterial art work. The thermal features are, however, very hot and the crust of soil around them thin and fragile. That made me struggle with a childish feeling of frustration. I found it hard to get over the fact that I
had to keep a safe distance from the wonderful spa-looking hot springs! hehe. But in the end I realized it was better to regret not being able to get into those beautiful springs than to see tourists with towels hanging from their arms queuing up for a hot bath... I'm grateful the pretty pools are too hot and improper for bathing!
I spent my days cycling, walking on the boardwalks and hiking. In the evenings I wore my best clothes and pretended to be a guest at Old Faithful Inn. The Inn is an amazing log building with a huge hall where the architect made sure to show off the complex wood work and its over-the-top ornamental details. A very appropriate place to read my books on wood cabin construction, draw some sketches and dream on about starting my own adventure centre back home... I'm certainly not short of inspiration!
There are more photos below