Yellowstone. The very name conjures up images of towering mountain peaks, verdant valleys transected with streams, wildlife, and for some of us, a bit of unease when we realize that floor of the Yellowstone Valley is actually the wide mouth of a massive caldera. Volcanologists repeatedly assure the public that Yellowstone is in no imminent danger of erupting. The last time the super volcano under Yellowstone erupted was about 650,000 years ago. Remnants of that eruption are everywhere—from the high walls of rhyolitic basalt forming the caldera rim to pieces of obsidian scattered around the park. (I don’t even want to guess how many tiny pieces of obsidian my granddaughters shoved into their pockets on this trip.)
I’ve just spent a week in this amazing place (we camped next to Lewis Lake) and could spend a lot more time there if the finances allowed it. I unplugged. I had limited cell phone service in a few places in the park and had zero internet connection and I have to admit, I didn’t miss it one iota. Instead, I took pictures. LOTS of pictures.
Yellowstone is our first national park and considered by many to be the crown jewel in a string of beautiful places we have set aside to be protected for generations past and to come. Yet, Yellowstone is no stranger to controversy for all the serenity to be found there. Speak of the reintroduction of the wolf to the ecosystem and opinions are as divided on the benefit (or lack thereof) this apex predator plays there as the current political climate is divided.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I’m not sure quite where I fall on the spectrum of that opinion. My heart says the wolf belongs in Yellowstone as much as the bison, the elk, the moose, the grizzly, and the mountain lion. My head understands the misgivings and concerns of the ranchers who live around Yellowstone. I hope that there will be a compromise reached, a middle ground. It’s still on my bucket list to hear the wolves sing in Yellowstone and to be able to see these magnificent animals. And, I pray that they will still be there when my granddaughters take their grandchildren to Yellowstone.