Some days just beat you up.
You go home and all you can think about is laying on the couch with a funny movie and box full of cookies.
II definitely had one of those days.
I had the Mud Volcano program for 4:00pm but it was storming and there was a bit of lightning. So I postponed for 15 minutes hoping that the storm would pass. Thankfully it did, but it rained the entire hour and fifteen minutes of my program. I had a fun group of people who stuck it out with me to the end. As we were ending I looked across the board-walked area and saw seven bison near the parking lot. As a Ranger my first thought was ….. “crap, this is going to be a mess once the bison get to the parking lot.”
After about 15 minutes of trying to keep people behind the cars to give the bison their space I looked up after hearing a loud commotion. Only to see the rest of the herd of bison come down the hill and run through the thermal features, through people, and on the boardwalk. That’s when the true chaos began. When I look back on it the image I have for bison running down the hill is similar to the image of the wildebeests running down the canyon at Simba in the movie the Lion King. Of course it wasn’t THAT bad, but it was still pretty bad for a lone ranger to handle on her own.
At the time, I could only seem to focus on the people who were not yelling at me as I was trying to get people to back up. I had one visitor who I told multiple times to back up, and I eventually had to grab a hold of her arm and pull her back. She thought it was so funny, but I was hardly amused. A different man I told seven different times to back up, he too was smiling and laughing at me. In those moments, I really wish I could write tickets because I would have given him one right away. There also was a language barrier for both of these people, but multiple times of me gesturing and yelling at you should have been a clue enough. I get so frustrated when someone just stands there and takes a picture in a very unsafe place when I know they can hear me, and understand me. You set a bad example for everyone around you. As well as agitating that wild bison just a little bit more.
I had to send two different groups of the boardwalk to the safety of trees because the exits of the boardwalk were blocked by bison. It is illegal to step of the boardwalk in thermal areas so I do feel guilty about that. Contributing to resource destruction is not something I like doing, but it was the right thing to do in the moment. When you have 12 bison running at you to cross the boardwalk where you’re standing its very easy to listen to the ranger when she says to climb up that hill.
Thankfully more rangers did show up and as soon as they did, it seemed like the chaos just ended. People began to listen and stay a safe distance away from animals.
I’ve spoken about before that it only takes one negative person to ruin your day, even if you had 200 positive people as well.
So even though there were some people who did not listen, I am thankfully that 98% of them did.
One chaotic moment I wish to not experience again.
A few photos before the rest of the herd came over.