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Where the Real Reality Lies

Getting Off the Road

USA | Friday, 15 May 2015 | Views [73] | Scholarship Entry

The crowds at Yellowstone National Park can be unbearable at some of the main attractions. Old Faithful, the large geyser that shoots scalding hot water up into the air at regular intervals draws crowds of hundreds at each of its eruptions. The geyser was quite impressive, but it didn't compare to the "off the beaten path" (literally) experiences I had at Yellowstone National Park.

Sure, I did visit the attractions and spent one day seeing the sites, pushing past people who didn't want to lose sight of precious pavement. However, I experienced the real magic of Yellowstone once I stepped onto the trail, and into the back country of this amazing place. We planned a 2 night backpacking trip at the back country office. It was my first multi night backpacking trip and I was both excited and nervous, mainly because of wolves and grizzly bears. We set off in the morning on the first day, to reach our destination of Shoshone Lake, the largest back country lake in the Lower 48. We reached it after a day of hiking for about 8 miles. The lake looks so large it could be an ocean. It is huge enough to have small waves, and it is incredible to see such an amazing lake with no crowds of people, no motorized boats and no barbecues going on all along the shores. In fact, we only saw 3 or 4 other people the whole day.

The second night was even more amazing. We hiked 10 miles, part of it through a torrential downpour and thunderstorm to a campsite near the Bechler River. There were quite a few geothermal pools near the site, making it our own private Yellowstone - tourists not included. Amazingly, once the rain stopped, we were treated to an incredible double rainbow bathed in the yellow light of the setting sun. Even the fading light seemed more natural than usual at that moment. In the back country of Yellowstone, I felt that I was experiencing nature as it was meant to be experienced, and as it was back when people had to live off the land, and were at one with the planet.

Hiking out on the last day, we came across Lone Star Geyser, a smaller and slightly less reliable geyser than Old Faithful, but we got lucky. After sitting there for about 15 minutes, the geyser started to erupt. With a crowd of about 10 instead 300, seeing the geyser erupt felt like what it was - a privileged experience that nature decided to share with us at that moment. So, step off the pavement, and get onto the trail, to experience the true magic of Yellowstone.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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