Friday, January 29, 2010

The Lone Coyote

We reached the Lower Geyser Basin around 11:00 am. This is the part of the park that attracts a lot of sightseers, so we didn't spend much time here. I have a great distaste for feeling like cattle in a chute, shuffling down a boardwalk with hundreds of other tourists taking exactly the same photos. But I did take photos, and I was aided by the addition of a polarizer on my lens. You see, at that time of the day, Silex Spring was between the boardwalk and the sun, so there were some strong reflections.

While most folks pictures probably looked something like this,

mine looked like this:

The lesson here of course is that if you have a camera that accepts filters, buy and learn how to use a polarizer!

As I write this, so far removed from the actual trip, I had to look up information about the spring. I got the following from the website (I'm just being lazy here!):

"Silex is Latin for silica, the major component of rhyolite, the primary volcanic rock in Yellowstone. Silica dissolves better in hot water than in cold water. It lines the bottom of Silex Spring and forms terraces along the runoff channels.

Silex Spring is a perfect example for the living thermometer provided by thermophile microorganisms living in the overflow. The green, mats are mostly cyanobacteria, which can live in waters as hot as 165°F. They become orange, rust or brown as the water cools."

Here you can see the spring with its variety of colors and silica shelves

The whole area is replete with thermal features. The boardwalk wound on for quite a while, but we didn't go much past Silex Spring. Too many cattle.

One of my favorite things about these thermal areas are the trees. We saw the same thing at the terraces, these stark, burned-up trees, looking for all the world like an art installation at some modern art museum. I love the way they break up the monotonous landscape, offer contrast to the white clouds and silica, give the impression of the impermanence of things. If you went back there today I wouldn't be surprised to see these trees had fallen.

We did not linger at the springs. Escaping the busy parking lot, we headed south along the entrance road and back toward Jackson Hole. But just before we made the park boundary, Yellowstone gave us one last gift.

We spotted this lone coyote trotting along the side of the road. We pulled over just as he stopped to sniff something on the ground.

What a scruffy little fellow, still in the process of shedding his winter coat. God only knows what happened to his tail. He skittered over a log and into the road, moving as we did, away from the park. What an amazing experience this was. Although we had less than four full days in Yellowstone, I was thrilled with what we had been able to see and experience. I absolutely cannot wait to go back.

"Welcome me to a haven given,
it's well received into my open arms.
I ran in my sleep through shaking tremors,
I had the splitting earth echoing in my ears.
I'll be the first to praise the sun,
the first to praise the moon,
the first to hold the lone coyote,
the last to set it free.

I said welcome me."

Amy Ray, Indigo Girls

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