This blog post is kindly contributed by John Cumberland, long-standing tour guest and all-round good egg.
All images by John Cumberland.
The Big Bang didn’t happen . . . . not this time. Had the super volcano that lurks below Yellowstone National Park gone off, we would have returned home in record time on the blast wave (it’s due any time now though and the last time it erupted an estimated 240 cubic miles of rock and ash was chucked all over America, the earth cooled for years, life was extinguished – you get the picture.
Cairns holds me partly responsible for the resurrection of the winter photo-tours to Yellowstone. My initials “JC” may have been a factor. Crashing through the ice in the Arctic on the trusty M/S Origo before he fell in (see my blog ‘Cairns finally goes over the edge’ – September 2011), he casually mentioned that Northshots “used to run trips to Yellowstone”. Before he could say boo to a goose, I’d rallied my fellow Svalbard guests and hey presto, here we are. As you might expect from an adopted Scot, the subject of commission has never been mentioned!
So there we were, high and cold out there in Yellowstone in January. It was a landscape to die for, which could easily happen without the right sort of clothing and some of those Hotty hand-warmers about which Mr. Cairns is so disparaging. Although the super volcano remained restrained while we were there, the noxious gases seeping out of the earth in all directions reminded us that it was alive and well.
The old geysers provided us with rich colours, textures and shapes as well as steamy atmospheric shots, some taken at night. Fumaroles burped and blubbed mud with sound effects reminiscent of ancient feasting. There were images everywhere and pictorially speaking, we indeed feasted.
Speaking of old geysers, whilst we were out there in snowy Wyoming, Pete’s ‘big birthday’ rolled around. It is the age at which the ladies hope, somewhat forlornly, that their menfolk will finally ‘grow up’. We menfolk know better . . . no chance! After the birthday celebrations, energy and enthusiasm levels undiminished, we were out chasing the dawn light and all kinds of wildlife. Bison, moose, elk, mule deer, coyotes and eagles did not escape the attention of our lenses, in fabulous settings and frequently in lovely lighting. Spindrift sparkled in backlit misty woodlands. Pink sunsets turned snow covered landscapes and brittle hoarfrost into a wintery version of landscapers’ heaven. Otters left their footprints and trailed their tails.
The wolves were around but they kept clear of us during this trip. Pete emulated Chris Packham and confidently demonstrated his dexterity in handling a sizeable wolf dropping proving that they were there, somewhere, watching us. Maybe these smart creatures have picked up the vibes that humans have decided, in their ‘wisdom’, that they now need ‘managing’. In other words, the authorities have been lobbied and cajoled into accepting that the success following their reintroduction into Yellowstone, now means their numbers should be reduced.
What would you do if you were a wolf? Certainly not seek out the companionship of the ‘top predator’ – humans – even kindly Northshots folk.
If you get chance to visit this fantastic place – do so.