Have you ever passed something routinely, and thought, “I’d like to check that out”? Have you ever followed through?
From the time we arrived at Yellowstone, we heard about Lone Star Geyser. Unlike its more famous relative, Old Faithful, Lone Star isn’t accessible by car, and it’s not just a short jaunt along a boardwalk.
Lone Star requires that you hike or bike 2.4 miles, out into the backcountry where the majority of tourists never go. And yet Lone Star Geyser is predictable and impressive, tucked in near a creek, in a quiet little wooded area far from the hustle and bustle of the more developed areas of the park.
So, on a day off, we decided to go. It was an easy mountain bike ride, on a maintained paved and dirt trail, and we were the only ones at the geyser when it rewarded us with an eruption – complete with a rainbow.
That was the good part of the story. The less than good part was that we were enjoying the experience of being alone in such a gorgeous, secluded place, away from all other humans – o much so that we forgot ourselves, and the indelible law of the wilderness -nature must be respected.
We wandered to the opposite side of the geyser, and found a comfortable little hill where we could wait for the next eruption. I took pictures of the rainbow that formed in the steam, and then, we decided to leave – and realized that we were on the friable earth that forms a weak, dangerous crust over geothermal features.
We were risking our lives, being there, and, in those pre-cell-phone days, we couldn’t seek out help – we had to get ourselves out of there. With thoughts of the book Death In Yellowstone (more on that when we get to T) circling in my head, I tried not to panic as we picked our way out of the danger zone.
Please don’t do what we did. We got lucky and made it to the trail safely, but we could have as easily fallen through the crust, and been scalded to death by boiling water or steam released when we broke the surface. Rules, regulations, and warnings in wild places are there for a reason!
We returned home that day filled with beauty, and new wisdom hard-earned.
Okay, let’s finish on a more upbeat note…
When we lived at Old Faithful, we often made the long drive through the Gallatin Mountains to get to Bozeman, Montana – where we could find a variety of stores and restaurants that weren’t available in the park. Several times, we passed the Lava Lake trailhead, and told each other we were going to hike it one day.
“One day” came on Fourth of July weekend. Our late Bunko-dog was a four month old puppy, and loved the woods, so we took him along, and he scampered along with us on his first “big” hike.
I’ve written about that hike in the form of a poem, titled “It Levels Off Up Ahead.” That was something my Accomplice said again and again as we worked our way up the switchbacks. “I think it levels off up ahead.”
Well, it didn’t. Sometimes trails don’t; sometimes life doesn’t, either. Sometimes life creates art, and family lore, and the fodder for blog posts and entertaining anecdotes, because we take the time to do that thing that we’ve wanted to do, because we made the time for it…it never leveled off, but it was a gorgeous hike, just the same (and the return trip – all downhill!).
This post is part of the #atozchallenge. For more luscious, lusty, lingering “L” posts, click the banner!
Has that ever happened to you? Do you have stories of the times you said yes to that place you wanted to go? Or do you tend to keep on driving, and tell yourself, “Another time, maybe”? Is there someplace you’ve been meaning to go that you can say yes to, in the next few weeks? If you do, we’d love to hear the details!