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The Awesome Natural Beauty of Hebgen Lake and Yellowstone

Before embarking for the USA, I was happy to note that we had a few days planned at the Yellowstone. Thanks to Bill Bryson, I thought I had a feel of what Yellowstone is all about.

The Yellowstone is what the books say, but yet so much more. The breathtaking beauty of the snow, hot springs, canyons, snowcapped mountain peaks, animals, rivers, falls, trails, - all rolled into one, seamlessly merging into each other - for thousands and thousands of unending square miles is something that can be imagined only when seen. One would need to be armed with the power of imagination of the Almighty to be able to conjure the landscape of Yellowstone by simply reading a passage in a book.

Yellowstone has been a geological hotbed for millions of years. It has an extensive history of volcanic activity, which can explain the thousands of small and large hot springs and geysers, resulting in the ice-cold Yellowstone river upstream rising in temperature as we move downstream to nice lukewarm to scalding hot. For the same geological activity we have deep canyons and gushing falls [dozens of them or hundreds of them] along the path of the river.

For someone from India - where snow is at best a touristy delight, a mundane concept in geography books, or mere numbers in heat exchange numericals – the very sight of a vast expanse of snow in the middle of the month of May causes great awe and culture shock. If one adds to this hot springs, wild animals and great man-made facilities not to mention an awesome friend and person as a guide – we will reach heaven on earth.

There are many more pages already written on the natural beauty of Yellowstone than can be devoured by enthusiasts, for at least a few billion years. So interested folks, please google to see some pictures and stories. I would like to limit my description of nature to what we saw by saying that we were excited [and fortunate] to spot black bears, eagle nests, grizzly bears and other animals of the wild. We also saw the The Old Faithful Geyser – which is an amazing amazing [I just cant help the dual adjectives coming multiple times in this blog] cosmic concoction. We have a grand geyser erupting upwards a few stories high periodically every 90-95 minutes for years together [no wonder it is called The Old Faithful]. We have a video of the same, maybe we will upload to FB or You tube sometime.

But as I mentioned earlier, I don’t want to talk more about nature. There is more and better material available out there to speak on this. Two other things have etched a deep and lasting impression on me. One on my mind, and the other on my heart.

Firstly, I would like to unequivocally put on record my deep appreciation of sensitivity and commitment that the USA as country and community has taken to not only to showcase this natural beauty, but also to make it as accessible as possible to its visitors. We have well marked wooden trails created along important paths, there are informative and aesthetically tasteful signages, maps and bulletin boards all over the place, there are extremely well maintained toilets [barring exceptions] at regular intervals at around heights of 6000-8000 ft above sea level. There are lodges, eateries, gift shops and gas/petrol stations in the middle of no-where. This country takes it citizens seriously and is keen to delight them. Period. People respect each other and are sensitive to each others conveniences.

And now, on to the impression on the heart. Well – ‘Lori & John and Hebgen Lake/Yellowstone’ could have been a more appropriate title to this blog. I guess this is hint enough. But then let me write more. We were hosted by a godsend couple Lori and John, who live in Idaho Falls and have a cabin as a weekend home in Hegben Lake, Montana. John drove 200 miles each for two days to show us around the park. He knows Yellowstone by the back of his hand [I am sure he has seen it hundreds of time]. The ‘Lake House’ was luxuriously equipped, not to mentioned very tastefully decorated and well maintained. The vast expanse of the Hegben Lake – yet under snow – was another treat. The rations and wine flowed like the gushing Yellowstone river. Banter and anecdotes were enough to keep us warm. Lori & John literally pampered us every bit, they always went that very extra mile to keep us happy and ensconced. Anil and Dipti cooked food for the three days to give a flavor of Indian cuisine. Lori and John also relished the same. We were one family of seven by the end of the weekend. We also found time to have the long weekend team discussions / preparations for the ensuing district conference presentation. Thus put together this would probably rank as one of the best ever weekend getaways I have ever had.

May 15, 2011
Sun Valley, Idaho
ps: Sorry for posting it much after writing it

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