Review - “Yellowstone – There and back again” with Stephen and Jane Lee, 10 May 2021

A review by Janine Scola - “Yellowstone – There and back again” with Stephen and Jane Lee, 10 May 2021
Stephen and Jane are known for their love of colder climes for their holidays and at a time when so many of us are keen to travel again, what better way do so than in the comfort of our chair and enjoy the experiences of Stephen and Jane’s talk which took us to Yellowstone and the Tetons – in the winters of 2018 and 2020!

We started our journey in Yellowstone, the world’s first National Park set up in 1872 primarily to protect the hydro-thermal areas in this region, nestling between Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Being winter there was plenty of snow and with it, rather cool temperatures! Getting around was not the easiest with all the camera kit in the deep snow, but a Snow Bombardier circa 1950’s gave easier and less strenuous access. The Park sits on a ‘super volcano’ which has erupted three times, thankfully some considerable time ago. Out of those eruptions, calderas formed and with it various hydro-thermal features took shape each with their own unique plumbing systems – who knew!

Stephen and Jane then explained the different hydro-thermal features that can be found throughout Yellowstone. Hot Springs are the most common ‘open plumbing system’ which allows the hot water generated beneath the ground to reach the surface with relative ease. A superb image of Biscuit Basin with its beautiful sapphire pool was an example – and at 93°+ not somewhere you want to dip your toe!

Geysers are another hot spring, but due to the restrictions underground for the hot water to escape, this increases the pressure and thus when the water is able to be released, it does so with a certain amount of gusto! One of the most well-known is ‘Old Faithful’ which can send a water plume some 110-185ft into the air. Again, amazing images depicted this natural phenomenon.

On to something slightly less eruptive – mudpots! However whilst these don’t spurt quite so high - they are acidic and give off gases equally hot – and smelly too! Next up is Fumaroles which are steam vents with little water in their plumbing systems. We not only learned a bit more about this spectacle, but experienced how harsh and dangerous life can be in this region with amazing photography alongside.

In amongst all the geology lives a wide range of wildlife from Trumpeter Swans, Great Horned Owls hidden among pines trees, Moose, Elk and of course, herds of Bison all of which were superbly captured going about their daily life existing in this difficult landscape.

The second part of our journey took us to the Grand Teton National Park (southern part of Yellowstone) – undertaken by road from Idaho down to Jackson. Here the landscape changed, with various images showing the old grain elevators in all their shapes and sizes, laying waste in the stark landscape as Stephen and Jane travelled through Tetonia. Snow was ever-present and of course, trees that were once big and bold, were now petrified trunks creating minimalist scenes all captured by Stephen and Jane in their inimitable style. Onward to Mormon Row, with scenes taken on their journey showing the heavy hoar frost dusted on the trees and fences. This area is renowned for the abandoned Mormon homesteads that still exist in this landscape – and which showed what a hard existence was eked out from those who worked the land. Snow was particularly deep here, which made getting about equally difficult.

The evening drew to a close with images of the “Three Dog Day” – coyotes, red fox and wolf. Again great photographs were captured just at the ‘right moment’ with a coyote standing stock-still listening for his prey daring to move underground – ready to pounce. To the rare sighting of the red fox, but particularly a short video of one leaping in the air, pouncing on an unsuspecting vole who made the wrong move under the snow. And lastly a short AV following a pack of wolves, their interaction and their eerie howls drawing the family pack together.

A brilliant evening - we watched, we learned, we lived through the cold and the excitement of seeing the wonderful wildlife, all through the stunning images taken by these two outstanding photographers. A lot of time and energy brought this to us – thank you – we are so lucky to have you as part of our club.

~ Janine Scola