In the wilderness you are never very far away from the edge, and if you take it for granted, it will come up and bite you!
Yellowstone National Park is untamed and unfenced. It is not Disneyland with moats and guardrails separating the wild from the domesticated.
You can die a thousand different ways in the Park, and over 300 (not counting car wrecks) have succumbed to accidents and foolhardiness since 1870.
– The unsuspecting have been clawed & eaten by bears, and the careless have been gored by bison
– Sampling one of the 6 types of poisonous mushrooms or 2 types of water hemlock can be deadly
– Ski near the base of a steep slope and an avalanche could bury you until Spring
– Venture out in a thunderstorm and you can get struck by lightning or crushed by falling trees
– People have been trapped in forest fires and caught up in earthquakes
– Meet up with the wrong guy and you can get murdered in the Park as readily as anywhere else
And you can drown. More than 100 people have heard Shakespeare’s “dreadful noise of waters” in their ears while they sank down into murky depths or been tossed and carried for miles by raging rivers.
Most drownings, about 40, have occurred in Yellowstone Lake. At a maximum depth of 410 feet and an average year-round temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit, it is perhaps the most potentially deadly body of water in the United States.
Frequent afternoon windstorms produce waves of five to six feet, which can easily capsize a small boat. It is said to be a Catch-22 situation whether to swim for shore or cling to your overturned vessel.
Did I mention that it was 20 miles across, north to south, and 14 miles east to west?
Either way, hypothermia is gonna get you in 20 minutes.
😦 😦 😦
Lord, Lord! methought, what pain it was to drown;
What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears!
What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!
Shakespeare, King Richard III
PS – the “warning” in the header image above was actually posted for years at Bridge Bay, at the entrance to Yellowstone Lake. I am unable to confirm but I think it has since been modified (slightly) to eliminate the last three words, “to 20 minutes.”