Hayden Valley Sunrise Chapter 1

Layered against the cold, I removed myself from the warmth of my car and stepped into the morning darkness. The nearest hour was 4AM. My memory provided what my eyes could not, a placid river twisting through a green valley, rolling hills rising into a tree line. Abundant elk, bison and waterfowl interspersed with the occasional coyote. The valley transitioned rapidly as I remembered heavy snow in June, golden fields in the fall, rutting elk bugling across the river, a foggy spring morning and the realization that the dark spot on the ground was a newborn elk struggling to its feet, its first moments of life shrouded by the haze of Hayden Valley.
Hayden Valley does not seize your eyes like Yosemite; it cannot command you to stop like the views of Glacier. It is a subtle beauty, it prefers time. It likes to work its way into your heart. It wants you to sit and savor, sit and listen, sit and observe. Hayden Valley demands you study the nuances, look beyond the obvious. Like a partner in a strong marriage, the surface is only a reflection of what lies beneath. Hayden Valley’s beauty comes from that we do not see, it comes from what one feels, it comes from deep within any individual willing to take time to appreciate.
Standing in the darkness, I felt the valley nudge my soul. She knew I could not see; she caressed my cheeks with her cold dark air. Her bison snorted reminding me of my frailty, an owl announced her presence, Alum Creek babbled in protest as it lost its independence in the current of the Yellowstone. A thin sliver of blue-white began to separate the blackness, visually defining heaven and earth, visually defining heaven upon earth. A metamorphosis had begun, for a brief moment, my subtle beauty, my valley, was going to be a butterfly.
The sliver grew, the sky brightened revealing more of Hayden, the river began to reflect the unseen sun. Moisture dominated the morning as clouds and river shared color released by first light. It was a symbiotic relationship, the texture of the clouds revealing shades beyond any rainbow, the river, undisturbed by wind or rock, mirrored the blush of the morning. Thin clouds, low over the valley, appeared to imitate meandering water; they shared mood, color and contour. Together they appeared to relax, to slow time.
Through it all there was blue, a beautiful blue, bordered by night above and white from the sun below, enhanced by the lavenders, pastels, reds and oranges lacing the clouds. Blue reached through it all, surrounded it all, held it all together, delaying the day to give me this sunrise. It continued to build as if orchestrated by some higher being, each note building on the last, each note drawing out my emotions, each note wrapped in blue. When I thought it was over, it gave me more, reds and oranges mixing, intensifying until the brief life of the butterfly was over. Subduing the kaleidoscope, blue met the green of the forest, another day in Hayden began.

6 thoughts on “Hayden Valley Sunrise Chapter 1

  1. I have felt that Yellowstone is a more subtle beauty, as you describe. I’ve thought of it as a more feminine landscape, softer more rounded, than a park like the Tetons or Glacier. It does indeed require time, a slowing and a more thoughtful viewing. Thanks for sharing your sunrise, Mike.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Julianne, one morning, over 15 years ago I decided that I needed to be standing in Hayden Valley when the sun returned to Yellowstone. I stood there knowing that once again Yellowstone was giving me more than I could give back. Yellowstone offers more than one lifetime can experience. Mike


  2. Lovely Mike! You’ve exactly captured the essence of morning’s arrival in Hayden…my favorite place in all of Yellowstone.

    It was so good to see you and Mary. We are looking forward to getting together in Scottsdale. Until then, be well and travel safely.


    Liked by 1 person

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