“Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled —
to cast aside the weight of facts
and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.”
— Mary Oliver
It’s the dead of winter. My newly-waxed skis slip rhythmically across the shining snow; out-of-practice muscles welcome the exertion.
A coyote ambles past, making its circuit, following its nose, and a lone bison munches on green grasses it exposed using its massive head as a snowplow. Two trumpeter swans ply the Firehole River. Plumes of steam, rising like “the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,” confirm that I am in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone is a geothermal hotspot atop an active super-volcano, its immense magma chamber roiling just a few miles below the surface. Here, geysers expel super-heated water; hot springs burble and boil, fumaroles hiss, mudpots blurp. The ground feels quite alive under me, sounds and smells and sights emanating from a mysterious subterranean labyrinth.
Dazzled I am; few places can astound the senses like wintry Yellowstone can. I have the extreme privilege of being at Old Faithful, deep in the interior, visiting my beloved who is a winter seasonal park ranger. Fewer than 100,000 visitors — not even 3% of annual visitation — brave the obstacles to experience Yellowstone in winter. This is the solitude season, surely the most stunning of them all.
Leave a comment: What stops you from considering a winter visit?