Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter To Do List.

Every season there are always things that I want to do but just don't get around to it.  This season there are a few things that I definitely want to do.  I don't want to forget what those things are and I want to be held a bit more accountable so I'm relying on all you folks to help me with that task!
  • Tag along on a Steam and Stars Tour.
  • See a fox mousing. 
  • Visit Shoshone Geyser Basin.
  • Ski the Contential Divide.
  • Go to evening Ranger talks.  (especially the one about Bison!)
  • Canyon Ski Tour.
  • Build a snow cave.
  • Participate in Search and Rescue.
  • Photograph in -20 degree temperatures.
  • Olympics!
  • Down hill ski.
Me at Kepler Cascades.
I'll keep you updated as I check things off (or think of more things).  Thanks for all your help in keeping me on task!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise. 
                                                                ~George Washington Carver

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dehrydrating Lessons.

My poorly written and rambling post inspired me to write a better one! 

I did A LOT of dehydrating of foods when I was at me mum's home.  I dehydrated Ropa Vieja, Corn and Squash Relish, Jerky, Fruit Leather, Pork and Black Beans, Great White Northern Beans and anything else I had to throw in the pot and lots more (so much I can't even remember everything I made!).  There are a few conclusions I've come to:

#1.  I wouldn't dehydrate food (with the exception of jerky and fruits) if I didn't backpack.  It's not that don't re-hydrate well because a majority of them do (especially the Ropa Vieja, which is like Mexican shredded beef).  It's just that it's really not very practical to cook a meal, dehydrate it and then re-hydrate it for a boxed lunch in the office.  Just bring in some Tupperware with leftovers.  If you are worried about the world ending or a backpacker, the by all means dehydrate 'til your hearts content! 

Cooking at my mum's.  I loved having a window right there where you could watch the feathered friends!
#2.  Dehydrated fruit can be more delicious than fresh fruit.  Don't get me wrong - I love biting into a wonderfully ripened peach and have the juices drip down my face and hands.  Dehydrating fruit intensifies the flavors making it a great snack for road trips or at the office.  If you have some pears that are starting to get too soft, then slice up those bad boys; sprinkle on some sugar and cinnamon, if you wish; and dehydrate away.  It saves your fruit and you aren't losing any of the wonderful sugars that make fruit a better option than a candy bar.

#3.  Spread your food thinner than you think you need to while it is dehydrating.  We were doing a pretty good job of this at first but then I started to get antsy and wanted to dehydrate more at once so I'd make it thicker.  Not a lot thicker but a little bit.  A little bit though equals over 15 hours of dehydrating action as opposed to 8 hours of dehydrating action. If you make it thinner, then the air can circulate around each kernel of corn or each bean easier and dry it out quicker.

Ropa Vieja ready to be dried.
#4.  If you are going to be doing things such as fruit leathers or soups (we did a lot of soups), then you should by the fruit leather sheets.   We did not do this.  Instead we traced the tray on to parchment paper and cut out the parchment paper.  The big difference though is that we had to do this probably 50 times, we threw a lot of paper away and it's more expensive (the sheets are less than $10!).  However, they are impossible to find in small town Oklahoma and I didn't think about ordering them from the fancy interwebs until right before I left.

#5.  Beef dehydrates well.  I added chicken to lots of things because we had lots of chicken (left overs from Thanksgiving and left overs from making chicken stock).  However, beef dehydrated better.  Well no it's not even that, but it re-hydrates better.  It maintains it's flavor better.

#6.  Spray each tray with Pam before adding the food.  If you do not, then it will stick and be a bitch to scrape off.  It'll look less appetizing and you will be more apt to curse at the food as you are trying to pry it away from the parchment paper that just wont let go. 

#7.  Have a way to store your booty.  At first, we stored things in just Ziplock baggies and stuck them in the freezer.  (I read somewhere that dehydrated meat is good for two weeks at room temp or pretty much unlimited in a freezer.  Dehydrated vegetarian food is good for two years at room temp.)  However, I started having nightmares of giant freezer burned dried corn chasing me (not really but I did start to worry).  So we went to the store and decided to try to Ziplock vacuum hand pump suck-the-air-out-bags since they were $10 for all the supplies (about 24 bags and the pump) as opposed to $150+ for a food saver and the special bags.  Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.  My mum is supposed to be borrowing a food saver from a friend at work to prevent the freezer burn.

#8.  Make sure everything is completely dry.  Wetness is what makes things rot.  If it isn't completely dry, then let it keep going longer.  By the end of the two week cooking/dehydrating marathon, I felt very comfortable as to when it was dry, but earlier on I was afraid of it getting too dry and turning to dust.  I feared this because I read about it on other sites.  Don't be afraid of that - it takes a long time before it is too dry.  Be more afraid of it being damp.

#9.  Make everything about the size of a bean.  Not a giant bean like a lima bean or a tiny bean like a lentil but a normal bean - like a black bean.  If it's not all the same size then some stuff will turn to dust while other stuff is still damp.  (Like in the picture above, I ended up taking out the slices of carrots because they took way too long to get anywhere near dry.)  If everything is uniformly sized but rather large, it will take forever to dry out or may not dry out in the center at all.  I read to keep everything about a quarter of an inch by a quarter of an inch but it's easier for me to think about the size of a black bean.

Corn Squash Mexican Relish.  All the same size; although, it could have been a bit smaller.
#10.  I don't like taking pictures of food with my new camera.  (I know this isn't a dehydrating lesson but it's a lesson I learned while cooking.)  I have to wash my hands too often, pause my cooking groove and then I couldn't get the picture of inside the pot without often moving it to the floor and trying to angle it so it didn't look like it was on the floor.  Back in the day, I photographed every step of the way, but I also had a different camera that made it a bit easier. 

That's the big stuff.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment - I'm feeling like an expert currently.  My mum is taking over my duties as queen dehyrdrator while we are in the park so she'll probably have some stuff to add as well.  (We do have a mini-kitchen this season - but no cooking utensils!  We didn't know we were getting it so we didn't prepare!)

Stream of Consciousness.

Sometimes I can't get motivated to want to write.  The thing is though that I love to write.  It feels good to put my thoughts somewhere more permanent than my head or chatting with a friend.   I'm still not motivated but I figured if I just started then maybe something would come to me.  I might wander.

We are back in the park for the winter season.  This will most likely be our last season in Yellowstone.  However, as every Yellowstoner knows, there are four lies of Yellowstone and one of them is "I'm never coming back."  (The other three include: "I love you," "We'll keep in touch," and "I'm not getting drunk tonight.") It's hard to stay away from here.  It's so stunningly beautiful and peaceful that it holds on to you and doesn't want to let you go.  The idea of being able to wake up before being at work at 10:30 and go for a ski through the Lower Geyser Basin (home to famous Old Faithful and numerous other phenomenal geothermal features) is one that is hard to leave behind.

I've been looking at photos from other's AT trips and it makes me excited to be leaving with a plan.  At least we aren't heading out into the real world with thoughts of an office job (which I don't believe I could ever do again!) or mortgage payments.  What comes after the AT is still a BIG question mark and one that the answer to changes almost hourly (or at least that's how it feels).  On one hand we love being out west.  Who wouldn't?  The mountains have a way of getting into your soul and holding you there while you just calmly breath in the fresh air.  The freshly melted snow turning small streams into roaring rivers that wash you clean without even stepping into the frigged waters.  On the other hand we would love to be closer to our families.  They should just move out west and make it an easier decision.  Oh well there is still plenty of time before that decision has to be made.

I haven't even taken my camera out of it's case since I've been back in the park.  (And I've been here for a whole week now!)  I'm a bit nervous to take my new camera out on skis and we have been rather busy preparing for opening day, which is tomorrow!  We don't have nearly the amount of snow that we had last year.  In fact, we are still using some wheeled vehicles and my ski poles hit the road often while skiing to work.  Hopefully the snow gods will see our dances and dump several feet of big white flakes on us.  Fingers crossed! 

Laundry time!  Sorry for the lack of any direction and the lack of postings lately.  Now that my routined life is back, maybe I'll get better.  Lots of love and best wishes to everyone during this busy time of year.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dehyrdating Update.

I didn't forget about sharing our dehydrating successes and failures - and we've been a long way since our first attempt.  Our first night in Memphis, we (you should probably read I here) were so excited that we went to the store and got some fruit and ingredients for a pasta sauce.  We made cut up some pears (in super thin triangle slices) and dipped them in pureed pineapple; pureed some pears and spread it smoothly on the dehydration leather sheet; threw some sliced pineapple on for fun and turned it on.  We checked back on the status about every hour and ate many of the pieces as they slowly dried to their waterless state.

The pears dried really unevenly due to the fact that no matter how how you slice it - a triangle shaped pear slice's thin side will turn to dust while the other side still has enough left to make some pear juice.  The thick layer of pineapple, which we used to help preserve the color because they recommend pineapple juice but fresh pineapple were on sale, clung to the sides of the pears.  The what-was-supposed-to-be pear fruit leather turned a weird brown and slightly resembled a cracked piece of dark sandpaper.  We tried to scrape the pieces off with a fork, a knife, a spatula but ended up soaking it in soapy water overnight.  The pineapple; however, was wonderful!  It was so good in fact that it didn't make it all the way to the total dehydrated state.

Since that first attempt we have successfully dehydrated chili (that has also been successfully re-hydrated), baked beans, fruit leathers (flavored with grapes, bananas, apples and pears) and beef jerky.  The re-hydrated chili was for the most part delicious - the beef retained a jerky like texture and we used a little too much water in the re-hydration process but after hiking 16 miles with 30 pounds on our backs - it will be amazing!

We are at my sister's home now and have made a planned list of food stuffs to cook and dehydrate, including Carrot, Red Lentil and Ginger soup, Chicken Matzo soup, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo (which we made today and enjoyed so much that it was dinner - but we're going to make it again...), Cuban Style Rice and Beans, Mulligatawny Soup, some jerky and more fruit leather.  Stay tuned.

We used wine grapes to make our fruit leather.  It kind of felt like a loogie.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Cinnamon Black Bear.
A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children.
                                                                                                          - Audobon Society

Friday, October 28, 2011

Homemade White Pizza

Apparently, I wrote this before I came out to Yellowstone when I was chillin' with my mom (over a year and a half ago!).  I'll share now because we had homemade pizza last night (visiting Graham's family in Memphis)...

When my mom was in Chicago, we went to Piece and she fell in love with their white pizza.  She doesn't have any good pizza options in her town so we attempted a version of their white pizza tonight.  I've often heard that traditional white pizza is made with Alfredo sauce; however, Piece's is made with a layer of garlic and olive oil. Now Mama Bear won't have to go to the corner store to get a frozen pizza anymore!

We started with a wheat pizza crust recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle from Barbara Kingsolver.  We cut it in half since the recipe was for two medium pizzas.  While the dough rose, we roasted a bulb of garlic - next time, two bulbs will be roasted.  We used whatever veggies were available - sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, mushrooms, broccoli (from the garden) and ripe olives.  We were worried about the crust being too dry but it came out wonderfully crisp and had a great flavor.  The only change would have been more garlic and something with a tomato flavor on the other half (preferably fresh tomatoes from the garden).  

Dissolve 1.5 teaspoons of dry active yeast in .75 cups warm water.

Add in 1.5 tbsp olive oil and .5 tsp salt in to the yeasty water.  (It looks like an egg, which reminds me...  My mom's neighbor (who has a crush on my hot mama) brought over some blue eggs that we've been eating for breakfast and in salads.  The yolks are so bright and big and yet the overall taste of the eggs are so light!)

Mix in 1.25 cups of white flour and 1 cup of wheat flour.  

We had to add in water slowly and we didn't even finish adding in all the white flour.  The dough seemed a little bit of a tough consistency - but it ended up fine.  Let it rise for about an hour or so.  

While the dough is rising, roast the garlic.  Cut off the top of the bulb, place it in a foil bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Close up the foil bowl and place in a 450 degree oven for about an hour.  Check on it every once in a while and drizzle with more oil if necessary.  

Caramelize the onions - slice them into half moons, saute them over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes until brown and shriveled in size.

Prepare whatever else you are going to add.  If your mom is around, have her cut some olives...

...mushrooms and broccoli.

Once the dough has risen, spread it out onto a prepared pan (drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with corn meal to prevent sticking).

Smear the smashed roasted garlic and olive oil onto the dough with the back of a spoon.

We made half of the pizza with sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, mushrooms and the other half with olives, broccoli and mushrooms.

Cover the whole thing with cheese - mozzarella, Parmesan and goat cheese (if you have it).

Enjoy with hot pepper flakes!  

Happy cooking!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Appalachian Trail.

I realize that I often just tell stories of what we have done but not what we will be doing.  It’s mostly because I think of our future as being so variable that I don’t want to say we are going to do this and then do that.  However, we do have a few future plans that are set in wet cement – this winter will be our last season in the park and then next summer we will hike the Appalachian Trail.

[NOTE:  I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and hadn’t posted it yet – because that’s how I roll sometimes.  I have also realized that I don’t share a lot of the details of our daily lives – the tourons (like tourist combined with moron), the awful food and run ins with local power-hungry security (which is like a rent-a-cop but not rented).  I’m going to work on this as well… (And you can't fault me too much - I have improved on posting frequency!)]

Winter is a magical time in the park and I would like to experience it one more time.  I’m ready to get some skis on my feet and go out in the quiet, calm after a fresh snowfall.  The geysers and other thermal features have a more poetic draw to them with the freezing air causes the steam to multiply and the hush of nature allows you to hear the rumble beneath your feet.  The animals that spend their time trying to survive a Yellowstone winter, with -40 degree days and 200+ inches of snow, is a very humbling thing to behold. 

There are a multitude of reasons that we’ll be ready to leave the park after that – the main one being that we have little to no freedom here (see above comment about local power-hungry security).  It’s not because we have a million rules (although, we are on federal land so any trouble with the rangers and not security means a felony…) but because we don’t have any facilities.  If we want to make dinner, we don’t have a kitchen and even worse, we don’t have a place to get groceries.  We have a little camping stove and a grill but we have to drive at least an hour to pick up fresh veggies and some chicken.  (And I miss Rupert!)

We have decided that we want the things that come with the “real” world – Rupert, a dog, a garden – but we want one more grand adventure (and probably many others in the grand scheme of things).  We debated the three major trails – the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails – but decided the Appalachian would be the easiest for us since we are both fairly new to backpacking and working on getting our gear up to par.  We recently got a new tent after our zipper broke on our last one!  I’m looking forward to the adventure from Georgia to Maine – approx. 2, 218 miles that we’ll travel with everything we could need on our backs. 

After the Appalachian Trail, we’re not sure where we will end up but we do know we want to be close enough to places that are rich enough to allow backpacking in the somewhat near vicinity.  We have found a peace out in the woods that will be hard to leave so we don’t plan on leaving it completely – “The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go.”  -John Muir.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


One of the biggest things that Graham and I struggle with in terms of our backpacking trips is what to eat.  It must be lightweight, won't spoil, packed full of calories, quick to prepare and tasty.  (We have to carry everything on our backs, outside in the heat to replenish lots of used calories while using a gas (and we carry that too) stove with one 2 quart pot - and nobody wants to eat gross food.)

I always try to eat fresh/local/organic (which lets be honest hasn't happened much in the last year and a half because that is not what is served in the Employee Dining Room - hell, we're lucky if it's cooked all the way!) but we've found that the prepackage, full of salt and preservatives meal usually fits the bill over other foods (mostly the can't spoil and lightweight thing - potatoes are just not very light).

With the prospect of spending 6 months out in the woods (I don't think I've mentioned yet that we are planning a trip on the Appalachian Trail for next summer - more details to come with the next post) with the usual go-to's: Kraft Mac and Cheese with a can of chili (which is too heavy realistically anyway) or (newly discovered to us) Indian food in a bag with Minute Rice (which I then have to take Pepto and/or sit on a tree over a hole for 30 minutes - dang! Indian food is tasty but it does NOT agree with my belly) and then no matter what it is you have to wrap it up in a tortilla because it just makes it taste better (seriously, on the Mr. Bubble trip, Graham literally ate a chunky peanut butter, snickers and gummy bear "sandwich" wrap) - I have been on a mission for better health choices.  (This paragraph should probably be more than one sentence - but I think it has character so I'm going to leave it.) 

(I'm writing rather rambly - but it's currently 4:27 a.m. and I just can't sleep.)  I started this blog as a food blog and I'm going to start back down that path in detailing what we make; how we package, store and transport the food; and then the actual preparation on the trail. The pictures probably won't be pretty in anyway but hopefully they will be helpful to other campers/backpackers/hikers (or as I've learned in my recent research - people who think the world is going to blow up or something so they need massive amounts of emergency food supplies - not kidding, click here).  I have found a few pretty good sites but most of them seem started and then forgotten (the best one that I've found is from the Backpacking Chef) so hopefully this isn't some late night, sleep deprived dream that I soon forget about as well.

We are getting ready to head home (Memphis, Texas and Oklahoma) to visit the respective families.  During this time, we are going to cook some foods that could then be dehydrated - or if it would be possible to dehydrate the ingredients and then quickly make the meal after rehydrating.  It's not the same as fresh/local but hopefully we'll pick some of that up along the way too.  I have learned that you can dehydrate almost any food (like rice and then it'll have more nutrients than the Minute Rice but not noodles - but we can just bring those raw, which is basically dehydrated anyway, and add them into the cooking process).  I'm currently working on a list of recipes I think might work - and since this all currently hypothetical since I've never dehydrated anything in my life up to this point - I'll just let you know how they go so we discover together.

The other idea that we had is to make super muffins or biscuits but the concern is that they'd get too crumbly.  We might still make some, freeze them and have them shipped to us periodically.  By super muffin I mean one that has protein powder, flax seed, nutritional yeast and anything else we can throw in to it to add more calories (I did say we wanted lots of calories right?  specifically protein. The average AT hiker burns between 3000 to 4000 calories a day! and we have to carry the food to replenish that on our backs.)   I believe we could make tasty ones (and I love to make muffins!) and they would be good for breakfast or a snack - it's just the crumbly part.

Any other food preparation ideas?

I played golf for my birthday.  Graham said I looked like Hunter S. Thompson in my golfing attire.
P.S.  I'm glad to be talking about food again.  I don't think this is an idea that will leave me once I'm finally able to get some sleep.  Definitely more details (about the Appalachian Trail and food) to come!


Glacier Lily.
 "Look!  Look!  Look deep into nature and you will understand everything."
                                                                                               - Albert Einstein

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Senor Bubble.

Graham and I recently hiked out into the Bechler River region (the southwestern corner of the park).  The area in general has the reputation of being fairly busy with traffic but also as being one of the more interesting backcountry places to hike.  

Lone Star Geyser.

We started out along the Lone Star trail, which we skied pretty commonly in the winter.  When we were about 50 yards from the clearing of Lone Star Geyser, it started to erupt.  We could feel the mist of the water so we started running to catch the tail end of it.  I’ve probably been out there 15 times and have never seen a lot of activity although it is has a fairly frequent eruption interval (3 hours). 


The rest of our hike that afternoon was through small geothermal areas or old growth forest (probably about 160 years old).  The dragonflies seemed to congregate in the thermal areas where mating dances were occurring on fallen over logs covered with thermophiles.  (Thermophiles are heat loving micro-organisms that thrive in the hot waters in the park and give many of the springs their bright colors.) 
Shoshone Geyser Basin.

The next morning, we took a short detour to the Shoshone Geyser basin.  It was really cool to see such undisturbed thermal features.  Walking around the Upper Geyser basin usually makes me a little sad because you can tell where objects have been thrown into the pools (or where the pools were damaged during the process of cleaning them out).  I would have loved to spend the day out here exploring the area but we still had 8 miles to hike before our destination for that night.

We stopped back at our site to pick up our packs and have lunch.  The next stretch of trail was all through old growth forest and over a (mostly) gradual hill.  I had been wearing my raincoat due to the large amount of mosquitoes that were feasting on me, but it made me super dehydrated.  The hike was significantly harder than it should have been and I had no energy – despite drinking over 4 liters of water in about 4 miles.  I protested against going all the way to our site and we set up camp with some nice guys that were on a multi-night backpacking trip.  Thankfully they didn’t mind sharing the site with us.


That night we woke up to a electrical storm and a drizzling rain.  I had left my boots outside the tent and didn’t want to unzip the tent to grab them due to having zipper issues (our tent officially went out of commission on this trip).  Thus, I finished the hike in my sandals and had to pack my wet boots out. 
My super white legs in Mr. Bubble.
We got up early and hiked out to Mr. Bubble, a thermal feature that you can soak in.  It was a really relaxing way to start our day and a treat to experience without anyone else there.  Graham did burn his foot by stepping in an area that was entirely too hot, but not anything too bad.  Across the river was another (much hotter) Hot Spring, supposedly Grandpa Bubble, which was beautifully bubbling away.

Grandpa Bubble.

After relaxing, we started out the 15 miles back to the truck.  It was an amazing trip.  Although we had a few minor mishaps and were utterly exhausted by the time we got back, it was well worth the effort.  

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I am super jazzed about the upcoming winter season!!!  A couple of days ago it snowed about 4 inches and a surprisingly large amount of stuck (especially for how warm it's been).  Sadly, I don't have any photos of it to share since my camera recently went cupt.  A couple of weekends ago we went camping at Agate Creek and in the morning when I went to turn my camera on it made a clicking noise for like a minute and then it takes pictures that look like this:  (I have been taking pictures, but with my film camera so it'll be a while til I see those...)

Picture from my broken camera.
The snow makes Old Faithful look more like home to me.  The surrounding hillsides are blanketed white and the tree branches are holding heavy armfuls of snow.  It's beginning to melt and it will most likely be all gone by the time that I'm done working and am spending some time car camping out in the area while I wait for Graham to finish the season. 

I have my last shift of the season this afternoon and then we are heading to Bozeman to hang out with a dear friend and talk to a gentleman about a camera!  It's a Canon EOS Digital Rebel DSL!  (I am super jazzed about a new camera!)  As I've mentioned - I struggle with the limitations of my camera and have been wanting a new one for quite a while.  If it's in good shape (it's used), then I'll get it.  If not, then I'll keep looking. 


Thursday, September 29, 2011


Mountains inspire awe in any human person who has a soul.  They remind us of our frailty, our unimportance, of the briefness of our span upon this earth.  They touch the heavens, and sail serenely at an altitude beyond even the imaginings of a mere mortal.
                                                                                      -Elizabeth Aston

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Graham's Dad Visits.

Fly Fishing.

It’s always exciting when family gets to visit. It’s a pleasure to be able to show those that we love the area where we live and what we get to experience as part of our daily lives.

Graham’s dad and his buddy went to Sturgis for some good clean motorcycle riding fun and then headed west to visit us in the park. The first day that we had off with them, we went to the Lamar River to try some fly-fishing. Graham and I don’t really have a lot of success in general and this day was no different. Although, JR had a good point – they call it fishing and not catching for a reason.

 We did see quite a few snakes in the river, which gives me the heebie-jeebies but we sat and watched one catch some minnows for it’s dinner. We rode (us in the truck and them on their bikes) the rest of the way through Lamar Valley before heading up the check out the Canyon before the last of the sunlight went down over the hill.

The next day we were planning on fishing on a boat but they were all booked up. So we all pilled into the truck and took a tour of the upper loop, since they did the lower loop one day when we were working. We didn’t see a whole lot wildlife wise – except for some Big Horn Sheep near the northern entrance that seemed a little distressed so many people were around so we didn’t stay for very long. We stopped at all the major viewing points and wandered around a little bit.

Big Horn Sheep

That evening we grilled out some veggies and pork chops, which were delicious. It was nice to have a relaxing weekend where we got to show the park to friends and family.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Simple Beauty.

Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.
                                                      -Anne Frank

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I don’t claim that I know what I’m doing when I’m photographing– but I really enjoy it. I couldn’t give you an explanation that would make you understand what an f-stop is or how to adjust your camera because I only have a vague conception of a lot of these terms.

I’m also a really impatient photographer. For example, I woke up this morning before the sun was up to head out to Hayden Valley to photograph whatever was around. (I was hoping for Bison since it is their rut season and they have taken over – but I didn’t even see one.) I got out there early enough to scope out the scene and pick my spot. I climbed up on a hill to get a good overview of the valley and then I didn’t want to sit and wait for the lighting. So I climbed back down and started to look around some more. Of course, during this looking around the sun peaked up over the edge and I wasn’t in any spot during the BEST lighting.

I’m working on this impatience. I know it’s a problem. I have other problems too.

I don’t like photographing from the road, which is what a surprisingly large number of “Yellowstone Photographers” do. (“Yellowstone Photographers” = someone who sells their pictures for a decent price.) That means if there is a pull out crowded with people to see a wolf that I won’t pull over, unless it was just discovered and there are only 5 or so cars or if the wolf runs in front of me.

There are times when I do photograph from the road, usually when I’m driving to pick Graham up, and I get frustrated that all the others around me have significantly better cameras. I am trying to take one picture and my camera has to unfocus and then refocus itself before one snap is taken and by then the subject has turned it’s butt to me. However, all around me I hear these people click, click, clicking away – sure to have gotten 10 pictures during the time it took me to take one.

I always wonder if their pictures are really worth anything though. (I have learned that having a nice camera doesn’t make you a photographer.) I’m especially frustrated this morning. I know I’ll get to where I need to be one day (equipment and knowledge wise) because I’m working on it but in the meantime I have some mornings where I just want to throw my camera at a tourists head after they come running over – yelling at the wife in the car – and scare off the Great Blue Heron that I have carefully snuck over to get a descent shot of with my little bit of knowledge and whimpy camera.

Great Blue Heron.

I just had to share my frustrations. Overall, I love photographing and will continue to do it if for nothing else but my own enjoyment. I appreciate all/any of you that have stumbled to here and enjoy my pictures and words – thank you!

NOTE:  I wrote this after a morning where I felt super frustrated and inadequate.  However, as time has progressed and I look back at the photos from that morning - there are many that I truly love due to the beauty and peace they instill in me.  Funny how that works.  I thought I'd share anyway.

Friday, September 9, 2011


No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.
                                                                                 -Ansel Adams

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Electric Peak.

Some hikes kick your butt much more than other hikes. This one kicked our butts. We hiked a total distance of 20 miles and an elevation gain of 5,700 feet. We started before the sun was up (around 5 a.m.) and got back to the vehicles 15 hours later. It was absolutely stunning.


The first half was an old dirt road that was closed to vehicle traffic. (It would have been so nice if the road had been opened up!) We watched the sun come up and brighten the mountains surrounding the northern entrance into Yellowstone National Park. 

 After we got to the end of the road, we had to cut across a beautiful display of Golden Aster and Lupine to follow along the ridgeline to the mountainside of Electric Peak. The ridgeline had a rather undistinguished trail that was hard to tell which path was the real trail and which path was a game trail. Eventually, we made it to the tree line and paused to get our rain/windbreakers on since the wind tends to be unrelenting once you get to this point.

We moved up the steep mountainside to arrive at the rocky (aka skree) peak that we had to traverse across to get to the actual peak. This is where the group got split up (and after a rock smushed Graham’s finger and he threw a temper tantrum) – Graham decided to turn back and I didn’t want to take the dangerous path by myself. When Josiah, Berlynn and Cody got to the saddle (right before the actual peak) a group of Big Horn sheep crossed the snow right in front of them. The other half of the group, Sam, Hannah, Graham and myself took a nap on the sunny mountainside to rest for the 10 miles back down.

Total Summer Mileage: 201.5