Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Yellowstone's Final, Magical Gift

 Final Yellowstone 2016 post--yay!

We pulled up our tent stakes early on the morning of September 26, and headed south towards the Tetons. It was a chilly morning, with frost on the van windshield. The autumn sun was just peeking over the trees as we drove along the Firehole River, and I stopped to get a couple photos of the mist rising off the water.

We came around a slight bend to a small traffic jam. I couldn't make out what was going on, then saw, down the road, bison crossing. I looked to my left and there were more--lots more--crossing Nez Perce Creek and moving into the flood plain. I found a place to park our rig, grabbed my camera, and made my way back to the bridge.

I could not have envisioned a more beautiful, or magical, setting. Clouds and mist spread diffuse light across the creek, providing a stunning backdrop. It was so quiet I could hear the huge beasts breathing as they made their way down the bank and into the creek.

I don't know how big this herd was, but it was sizable. There were bison way up on the rise past the bend in the creek, bison in the floodplain, and more kept coming across the road and into the creek.

The morning dew frosted their heads and backs, and ice formed on their beards as they paused to take a drink. I stood, mesmerized, letting the moment wash over me. It felt, for a time, like it was just the bison and me. It felt, for a time, just as it should be, as these iconic animals spread across the valley.

Of all the things we'd experienced, from the wolves in Lamar to the Great Grays at Bay Bridge, this is what stands out the most. This cold, misty morning, surrounded by wild animals, tolerant of my presence, passing through a moment in time, at peace.