This past week I was fortunate to have been offered a chance to participate in a three–day geology seminar with the Yellowstone Association Institute entitled “Shaping the Northern Yellowstone Landscape.” Some places on this planet are just so inspiring that it is difficult for me to describe them in words and so I leave that task to the poets. One of these places (besides Yellowstone itself) is the Lamar Valley in the northeastern part of the park, where the Lamar Buffalo Ranch is located.
On Monday I was on the road at 5:20AM for the two–hour drive from Grant Village. I could have driven up the previous evening but I would have been driving into the nighttime darkness instead of out of it in the early morning. Colliding with wildlife was my primary concern. Bison are huge and looming shadows in the mist and their eyes do not reflect in headlights. Bear and elk can come out of nowhere so I took it carefully. The maximum speed limit on park roads is 45 mph and I kept my speed below that. By the time I saw the grizzly feeding on the side of the road at Dunraven Pass, rosy–fingered dawn had broken. On the other side of the Pass vast fields of yellow and pink wildflowers covered the volcanic hillsides. The road twisted its way past massive cliffs of columnar–jointed lava flows towering above the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. It was all I could do to actually keep my eyes on the road.
I arrived at the Ranch with plenty of time to meet the other participants and have a cup of coffee before the seminar started at 9:00AM. The sky was overcast, its thick blue–gray clouds draping the low hills, and I was barely awake, but there was nothing in the world that could dampen my excitement at being part of the sublime beauty that is Lamar Valley.
|Rainbow over Lamar Buffalo Ranch|
|Bison grazing in a Lamar Valley evening|