Funny, a while ago I used to preach the phrase- you are what you invest your time in. But now, it is definitely- you are what you read. Ambition and pride tugged me to the direction, to the road less taken. I was allured; tempted by the road less travelled and found myself lost in early 19th Century Imperial Russia. Every instance, without fail- when I allow my miniscule mind to wander aimlessly- it suddenly rights itself like a sailboat in water…to the vast heavily forested world of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Such was the state of my mind as we hiked the worst hike of our trip.
We were in the Yellowstone basin, probably the most famous National Park in America. We toured the necessary sights, such as the Old Faithful Geyser…but we had to get out of the ever burgeoning crowds at Yellowstone and possibly sight some of the animals that we thought hard to find. We took on this 18 mile roundtrip hike so that we could see some of the backcountry Yellowstone and its vaunted animals…and ended up more than disappointed. As we hiked to the Heart Lake, the scenery was virtually nondescript with burnt trees everywhere (possibly from the great fire of 1988) saw no animals en route and arrived the lake with no special occurrences. However, as the sun went deeper westwards, the fun began. The mosquitos (which have been mostly quietly dormant) came out in droves. It was like our tent and the surrounding area was the designated mosquitos’ party site. They came and partied allright. We were their kegs and they suckled endlessly. Realizing the sudden danger, we dove into the relative safety of tent. Safety? Ha! Says Nature. As we cuddled and read our books, outside became more and more windy, our $40 tent barely holding up against the winds of Heart Lake. We peered out from the tent’s window and were aghast to see dark and ominous black clouds that bode bad news. We looked up to the nettings and learned that even the mosquitoes have evicted their party. The big, bad black clouds were like the cops, terminating the party early. Before we could say “BRO!” (our favorite phrase at moment) the torrential rains of basin penetrated the tent’s porous defense. It was literally raining inside the tent, especially on the sides- so Bobby and Scott had to shuttle up to the middleman (which was me) and we spent the night jamming eachother up.
Us jamming up
It would be amiss on my part if I left this story unmentioned in our annals. Scott, in general, is very good at boasting and never backing it up. When the pelting rain hit us, Scott proclaimed that he would “get up at 6 a.m. and get the hell out of this forsaken place” and repeated it throughout the night. Bobby and I were right to doubt him, asking him that if he would actually follow through the plan. Sun dawned…6 am….7 am…8 am…at 8:30 Bobby and I finally stirred around and were not very surprised to see Scott’s closed eyes and that smug smile of his when he sleeps. It was a while until Scott finally came out of the tent with his tussled hair. He walked around, found a spot to have his customary morning piss, walked around a bit more….all the while Bobby and I kept staring at him. Scott finally had the courage to glance at us. Our eyes asked him the question, 6 am huh? Scott promptly answered that he was up at 5:45 a.m. and saw us so soundly asleep that he felt it would be immoral for him to wake us. “I tried, man…I tried!” then he proceeded to stretch his back.
On our way back, we saw only mosquitos. We have grown quite adept at swatting them. Our kill percentage is up around 90 percent, and we have mastered the techniques of reaching mosquitoes on every place of our body. 18.2 miles, we have hiked, on hopes of seeing wildlife in action but only got mosquitoes instead. My mind was on a juggernaut….War and Peace…how Prince Vasily have had corrupted everything…SPLAT! Got you mosquito! Haha! Anways…where were I? Oh yes…that bastard son of his, Anatol…it goes on.
However, as we drove on the main road…bam! A herd of bison! Elk! Grizzly Bear! Black Bear! We were so entranced with the majestic animals at display, along with the teeming people and cars. Later on, we found it funny that we hiked 18.2 miles and saw nothing. But when we drove up the main roads, we saw innumerable animals, especially bison. They had absolutely no fear of people or cars, crossing the road at will while the people in car snapping off pictures.
The valley of Bison. Perhaps the same scene Lewis and Clark saw as they blazed their way westward.
As you may see, this bison owns the street with utter authority
A black bear cub showing off his climbing skills
For me, I have a mixed outlook on Yellowstone. The scenery and nature weren’t up to the expectations. There were simply too many people and cars. Scott counted and discovered that there were 2,209 campsites at Yellowstone with 13 different sites. They were always booked by 4 P.M without fail. Yellowstone is more of a vacation spot, ideal for families or retired couples. They don’t have to hike or participate in strenuous activity to witness the wonders of the nature world. I don’t really like the idea of simply driving up to a place and walking only 100 meters and behold! I like the idea of working for it. Blood, toil, tears and sweat, as Churchill poetically expressed it, makes everything much better….that is perhaps why I love hiking/climbing mountains and working for the views on the summit. Nevertheless, we roar our way northward to Glacier National Park. And in the near future….Mt. Rainier looms.