Death in Yellowstone

During my five-day trip around the park, Death in Yellowstone, by Lee Whittlesey provided my bedtime reading. Some may consider this subject matter morbid; I’m reading it as a self-defense manual in order to increase my chances of survival during my hiking excursions (and to be honest, I also like reading about humans acting stupidly—I love those Darwin awards!)

The section on “death in hot water” held some surprises for me. I always assumed that a fall into a geyser or hot spring brought immediate or at least a quick death. Unfortunately, being boiled alive can be a slow process, with some victims lingering for weeks. As Whittlesey states: “One of the scariest things about falling into a hot spring is realizing that one could indeed remain fully conscious for many painful hours while awaiting death.”

Yellowstone has over 10,000 geysers with temperatures that can reach up to 205F. I’ll look forward to exploring them this summer, but from a safe distance. Despite the ongoing cold and snowy weather, I will resist taking a dip.

I just started the bison versus humans chapter—I certainly nominate the person who put his child on the back of a bison for a photograph for the Darwin awards!