We entered Yellowstone National Park through its southern entrance today. It is the world’s first national park, designated in 1872, and was advertised as The World’s Wonderland. Tomorrow we will ride further into the caldera where we’ll be wowed by all varieties of hydrothermal creations, a testament of its volcanic past, including geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mudpots.
When Scott and I rode through here in 2002 I remember remarking how it was still apparent where the fire of 1988 had occurred that burned 793,880 acres (36% of the park), the ashy gray skeletons of lodgepole pines still standing meters above the new growth. Eleven years later, the new growth is a bit thicker and taller, but the skeletons still stand, limbless, like giant toothpicks.
Turns out lodgepole pines have a very long life cycle. They can live for up to 250 years. When they die, they remain standing for another couple of decades, rising above the new growth. Once they finally fall, looking a bit like a game of pick-up sticks, it takes another couple of decades to decompose. These dead trees will likely outlive us all.
But what I am most excited about is we have reservations at the Old Faithful Inn for tomorrow night! The Old Faithful Inn was built in 1904. Now a National Historic Landmark, its rustic interior and architecture served as a model for subsequent National Park lodges like those at Yosemite and Crater Lake. Every time we visit the national parks we say how great it would be to stay in one of the historic lodges, but we could never justify the expense. We received some going away funds from friends and family for this very purpose. We called today and they had one room available in the original building (Old House). Tomorrow night, the weather forecast is calling for rain with a chance of snow. If there was ever a time to stay in a hotel, this is it.
This time tomorrow I’ll be clean, hot coffee in hand, sitting on the balcony, watching Old Faithful. I can’t wait!