Even the best adjectives I can think of will fail to depict what Yellowstone really is. One must go there, experience its glory bits themselves to get even a tiny grip of its enormity. But I will say that this place is both enchanting and barbaric at the same time.
It’s huge. 3500 sq miles huge. Wild life wanders around freely everywhere here. No one to tell them where to go, no one to control them, cage free, wild and free. Just the way they are supposed to be. It freaked the heck out of me when a giant Bison walked past our car heedlessly, but I was high from that experience all day.
Watching two Wolves trying to hunt down an Elk was the highlight of my trip. This was rare because this was no ordinary Wolf pack. A typical radical consists of a mob of 12-15 adult Wolves in Yellowstone. Well this, this was a team of just two. An alpha male and an alpha female trying to build a pack of their own, which means, they have to be more patient with their kills because it’s laborious (read impossible) for just two of them to make a kill, plus they’ve to watch over their pups with caution for there is no one to look after them when they are busy hunting and carefully work their way through establishing themselves as the head of the pack when they add more members.
I watched the Wolf-couple chase this lonely Elk around, swim repeatedly in freezing water to get to her and wait patiently by the river bed hoping for the Elk to give up who had taken to the nearby stream seeking refuge. Under normal circumstances, one would presume that this was no big deal, right? swimming in a shallow river stream doesn’t sound dangerous at all, except that it really is. The temp here is below zero, freezing & deathly in most cases. The chances are that the spine chilling water will kill the Elk faster compared to them, canine beasts.
However, much to the dismay of the wolves, this young Elk was one heck of a prey and she fought all day long wearing them out. Before the skies turned dark, the wolves went after her for one last time with all their might and decided to give up and walked away.
A part of me was following the female wolf closely this whole time. (I think). She was fierce and a much better swimmer compared to her male counterpart. However, I felt a little let down by the end of the day. Well, be it waiting by the riverbed or risking to swim across the freezing stream to get closer to their feed or settling to break away hungry after several fretted attempts, none of it was her decision even once. Not even once for a stretch of 5+ hours that I watched her. She merely followed the alpha male at every step. Patriarchy is not unique to the human race after all?
Amidst all this drama, this guy pulled over with a dauntingly large lens which obviously got me excited instantly. I had to look through that lens at least once, so I tented next to him shamelessly, bugging him (more like begging, but anyway) with all sorts of questions. “Do you think they are going to kill?” “How you seen a kill before?” “Do you run a YouTube Channel?” “Have much does your lens cost?” among a bazillion others. He was a bit uptight at first, but gave into my madness and asked me to look through his lens at last. SCORE!! And I did. This whole time though, I had no idea who he was or that he makes videos for Nat Geo. But now, I can wear a badge that reads ‘I’ve met an award winning wild life cinematographer’ with pride.
For those of you that are interested to learn a little more about this magnificent place, check out these documentaries. Crying is inevitable, but I assure you that it’ll get you to think, think a little deeper about wild life and nature. For those of you that are living in the US, I urge you to visit Yellowstone at least once.
Yellowstone was on the very top of my ‘Must See Places’ list. But, for some strange reason though, there wasn’t a point that made me fall in love with it’s resplendency. You know that one instant which ships a mote of your heart to shack up in that place forever when you travel? That, didn’t happen at all, which is ironic since I’d desperately waited to visit this place for as long as I can remember. I ought to go back to find my magical jiff, then. We’ll see.
There are other itsy-bitsy things that I want to write about. Like our new SUV, how I’ve become the subject of every knock-knock joke, Bear Rehab, that lonely Pronghorn near our cabin, Lamar Valley sunrise, the promptness of Old Faithful eruption, nauseating Sulphur cauldrons in the park and how the incessant rains ruined our hike both days. But that would be tad too much. So here, I’ll leave you with a few pictures instead.