A Magic You Know Not Of
One of my favorite moments of my entire trip to Yellowstone was the most unexpected. Unsure how big the park truly is (bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined — like that helps anyone), and how time consuming the traffic jams can get towards the ends of the day as everyone is attempting to leave the park at once on one of the few roads out, we found ourselves actually alone, pulling into the Grand Prismatic Spring parking lot, well after sunset.
During the day, the Grand Prismatic Spring (or GPS as the Yellowstone cool kids call it), is THE place to be. It’s brilliant rainbow 🌈 super heated waters are one of the natural wonders of the world. You can see it up close via a boardwalk, or take a short hike up a hillside to view it in all its majesty from above.
We didn’t see any of that. On our trek by it earlier in the day, the crowds were overwhelming, and we kept journeying North. Yet a hours later, twilight still dominating the scene, we parked and tepidly exited our vehicle into the night.
The sky was crystal clear, and even though the sun had set fully a half hour prior, the western sky still glowed and reminded the world of the day that had just finished.
We crossed the wooden bridge over the Firehole River, stopping often to watch the overflow of the geysers cascade down the banks into the rushing water below. The cooling night air reacted strongly with the hot emission from the first geyser we encounter, the once mighty Excelsior — when first discovered, she violently roared 300 feet into the air at all times, before essentially blowing herself up. Today her waters are still hot, but just bubbling at the surface.
As we walked the boardwalks — wooden paths through the geyser basin with no railing separating you from the boiling waters all around you — we became aware of the immense “you don’t belong here” enormousness of the moment. Stars started rapidly filling the sky, the light faded with each passing moment, and the steam from the hot water expanded to fill the cooling night air all combined together to remind us that we were on the surface of an alien world.
Thoughts of wolves and bears crept into the corners of my awareness. The wooden planks of the pathway became slippery; coated with condensation. The steam clouded your path so completely that my friend disappeared from sight a mere ten feet in front of me. Fear sought to rise up to the preeminent position in my mind.
Yet it was beautiful. Majestic. Stunning.
While the colors of the spring were not visible at night, a sight not available to the scores of visitors during the day dominated your senses.
You were in a holy place.
A time and place set aside for those souls who would venture into the night to experience the unknown.
The photos do the moment no justice. The “Night Mode” of the iPhone actually made things appear so much brighter than my eyes witnessed. But yet they still captured beauty that transports me back to that night. Thankfully I was mindful enough to put the camera away after grabbing a few shots, and breathe in the moment on my own.
The night was not one that I will forget, and it is a lesson to me for the future — visit places outside of optimal times and conditions — you may find magic you knew not of.