Yellowstone National Park- If you are an outdoors person you know this park. In recent years most of the attention is in the national news from a tourist doing something dumb, illegal or both in regards to the parks thermal features or wildlife. The protected land in Yellowstone is situated on a hot bed area of dynamic thermal activity which results in over 10,000 thermal features throughout the park, though the most known is arguably Old Faithful. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to this National Park every year, but as is true with most of our nations parks, far fewer people leave the paved trails. This is a shame, as there are always so many things to discover beyond where the pavement ends. This is a classic park, something we all know and love and the first park in the entire world to be recognized and protected for its unique features. I chose this map to represent the Garden Couscous. It was one of the first recipes that I developed and is still the perfectly light, four season go to option for any adventure. Just like Yellowstone, this is a classic, and one of the under appreciated meals in our line up.
My favorite memory of Yellowstone National Park:
This was my first solo backpacking trip since arriving back to America in 2014. I remember excitedly packing up my pack at my vehicle. I was on the tail end of completing an adventure from east coast to west coast the previous couple of months. Being that I had been on the road so long, I had most of my possessions in the vehicle and trailer that I was pulling and was cognizant that everything needed to be locked. As I was leaving the car park I locked my doors with the clicker, making sure the horn honked three times; because I am one of those people that think the first two don’t really count. Third time is a charm! Then off I went into the woods.
The extra large can of bear spray on my hip, obnoxiously large knife attached to my pack and my crisp topo map gave me a sense of security, independence and confidence as I proceeded down the trail to my first back country site. I remember being a bit on edge as I came across my first pile of fresh scat on the trail along with some large paw prints. I quickly referenced a track identifier paper that the rangers had given me to see if I could assess which type of bear it was. I don’t know that I ever ended up identifying it, but that most certainly heightened the senses. I distinctly remember the acute feeling of being part of the environment in that moment. I wasn't just passing through this time, I would be existing as part of it for three days.
My destination, Heart Lake, was a bit of a letdown as a destination in comparison to some of the more iconic features of the park, but truthfully that wasn’t what this trip was about for me. It was about inspiring that confidence, proving that if you believe you can, then, you can. It was about being present, learning, and relaxing.
On the third day I packed up and was heading back to the car, appreciating the good weather and embracing the accomplishment of completing that solo trip. As I arrived back to the car park I see no windows in either my passenger side or drivers side windows. I felt a knot rise up in my stomach and was so upset that someone would break into my car, especially out here of all places. I was immediately running through each person I had passed along the trail the previous days, wondering who it could have been. As I got closer to the vehicle I was getting pretty angry as I realized they must have been professionals because there wasn’t a shard of glass anywhere to be seen. At least they were leave no trace thieves right? It wasn’t until I was frantically digging through my console to see what was missing that I found my GPS in tact, my cash not missing, nothing disturbed what so ever.
By now you must have realized the same thing I had. I was the fool here. In my rush of excitement and anticipation of getting on the trail I hadn’t even remembered to roll up my windows! (Good thing I made sure those doors were locked three times!) This was a lesson all its own, and it taught me something about the types of people that you find in places like this. They are by and large well intentioned, honest humans who even when given an opportunity to harm others chose not too. I felt bad about being so accusatory with my thoughts, but grateful that people had not taken advantage of the situation.
The great outdoors draw all types of people, and it is a place for all to enjoy! Get out there and explore, just make sure to roll your windows up when you do!