Mid-may, 2010. I am over a thousand miles from home and over 7700 feet in altitude. We are cruising along a road next to a frozen lake. A bit of lake fog gives way to reveal snow-covered peaks in the distance. White clouds in a deep blue sky create dark shadows on the icy surface. It is a serene view of an amazing place. Indeed, it is one of those amazing contrasts in nature that I will never forget.
Contrasts of Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation lake in North America. For my Oklahoma friends, it is nearly as large as our state’s second largest lake, Lake Texoma. An easy mile higher in altitude makes it quite a different experience. This lake has the largest population of wild cutthroat trout in North America and the largest inland population in the world. Note that this is a Pacific Ocean drainage fish that found its way into an Atlantic draining lake.
Consider the image of this ice-covered lake. Now, consider that Yellowstone is actually a super volcano. The heart of this frozen surface is just over 24 miles away from Old Faithful. Geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles can be found beneath the surface here. In one location, the water temperature was recorded at 252°F (122°C). Yet, here we are, in the middle of May, looking at a continuous sheet of ice!
Contrasts in Life
I can stare at this image all day. It brings back a lot of memories, but it also seems to always present something new as well. This pristine, wintry view in the caldera of a volcano is easily one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. Now, consider how this relates to your own life. We usually do our best to present a calm, peaceful state on the surface even when the water is boiling below. At some point, Yellowstone will erupt again. It will tear through this beautiful scene with devastating effect. And that is where we, as people, can do better than nature. It is never easy to hold in the eruption, but we can remove ourselves from the situation long enough to tamp it down a bit.