The two-person Atlas team spent 6 days in sea kayaks following "killer whales" through the waves and strong currents in the straits dividing the mainland from little islands of British Columbia, a region of high, snow-capped mountains, deep fjords and ancient forests of red cedar and spruce.
For more than a century, the United States' oldest and largest national park, Yellowstone, has welcomed visitors with its wild landscapes, animals, geysers, mud cauldrons and Mammoth Springs.
Land of fire and ice. Yellowstone is one of World's richest thermal areas. The number of geysers alone is around ten thousand. At Mammoth Springs udergroundwater heated by magma, dissolves limestone on its way to surface. As it approaches the surface, the decrease in both pressure and temperature releases carbon dioxide. Remaining calcium bicarbonate settles forming terraces.
Geysers and Deer
The richness of animal life in Yellowstone's rocky mountains is In this national park, bear, wolf, buffalo and deer are among the mostly encountered animals. Besides the fish in the rivers and lakes, Yellowstone hosts hundreds of species of birds.
1988 was a hot dry summer and ill-omened for Yellowstone. A single spark burst into the greatest fire in the history of the United States, sweeping through the tree tops, leaving charred skeletons and the stench of destruction in its wake.
Yellowstone, the States' oldest and largest national park was granted its status in 1872. It spans 8,500 sq km inside the borders of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho
North America is at its most magnificent in autumn when a visual feast is presented until the leaves fall, drawing thousands of visitors. Yellowstone, however, is predominantly covered with the evergreen variety Pinus contorta. Its powers of attraction lie more in features resulting from its geological composition: lakes, rivers, bubbling springs and active geysers smoking and spurting water. It also abounds in wildlife, including wolves, bears, bison, deer species, coyotes and foxes to birds.
Yellowstone is located in the crater of a volcano that exploded millions of years ago. The resulting crater is approximately 60 km in diameter. Then during the ice age, glaciers carved deep valleys, forming lakes, waterfalls and eventually seemingly endless forests.
The 1988 fire, exacerbated by lightning and violent winds, decimated one third of the park. Interestingly within seven years bright new pine saplings had begun to shoot up between the ghostly charred trunks. Nature has compensated for the disaster by renewing the forest with strong saplings. Certain varieties of cone-bearing trees managed to protect their seeds from the fire. In spite of the fire the number of visitors coming to the park has continued to rise.
The park and its facilities are impressively maintained, replete with many lodgings, campsites and parking spots offering exceptionally beautiful views.
The park is a paradise for photographers, but it is necessary to set out at dawn to avoid the crowds.
The most popular attraction of Yellowstone is "Old Faithful" geyser which erupts in a 50-60 m column of steam and hot water punctually every 72 minutes. Wooden benches encircling the geyser are filled with patiently waiting crowds. Restaurants, snack bars, shops and even a museum are housed in impressive old wooden buildings near the car park. Many other geysers can be found throughout the park, but they may be as far as 60-65 km apart. To visit all the geysers would require at least three to four days.
One of the park's most wonderful surprises is to happen across a herd of wild bison. These wild creatures often stream across the road, and most visitors react by locking the car doors and enjoying the spectacle without disturbing the animals.
All national parks of the United States have signboards explaining regulations and restrictions. Yellowstone is no exception, particularly around the geysers where visitors are warned not to cross the wooden courseway on peril of falling through the thin layer of earth and sinking into boiling water.
In addition to these unusual thermal formations the park also has extraordinarily beautiful waterfalls, particularly the "Lower Falls", "Upper Falls" and "Tower" created by the Yellowstone River. America was the first land to develop the concept of protecting its natural beauty, and Yellowstone has served as a model for the foundation of new parks for more than a century. My journey to this interesting region of America was not just limited to photographic interest. I was reminded of the importance of protecting our environment whose beauty is gradually slipping away in today's world.