Saturday, January 29, 2011


I'm going to keep this brief because I have to head to work shortly (and I am finishing chores that I neglected during my four day weekend).  Instead, I skied around the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (my summer home), played around on Watertower, skied up to Mallard Lake and Lone Star Geyser, and witnessed some of the most amazing sunsets of my life.  Definitely an awesome weekend.  I hope everyone is wonderful!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

23 Miles on Skis... two days.  My last weekend was an absolute blast - I skied to Fairy Falls, which I went to with my family this past fall, and to the Continental Divide. 

I didn't really take many pictures out at Fairy Falls or on our way back.  It was a super blustery day - we had multiple offers from snow coaches to give us a ride back to the lodge.  The falls were beautiful.  In the winter, they get a ring of ice that starts to grow at both sides of the falls and creates these magical ice formations.  I want to head back out there on a clear blue day; however, those are something of rarities out here this winter.

The next day, Graham and I got dropped off at the Continental Divide trail head and skied to the top of the mountain.  We could have stopped in the saddle that overlooks Shoshone Lake.  We didn't realize this and made the trek all the way up the top of the mountain to get this small glimpse of sunlight on a fairly distant mountainside through an even smaller clearing in the trees.  It was absolutely amazing to look out over this area.

On our way back down, we ran into three older ladies (one is a ranger and the other two were Yellowstone Association employees) who kicked our butts to get out of there.  However, they did tell us about an overlook just off the saddle that gives you a decent view of Shoshone Lake.  It is rumored that you can see all the way to the Grand Tetons on a clear day - not on the day that we were out.

We skied back down the hill and along Spring Creek.  Our original plan had been to climb out on the Howard Eaton and have a fast down hill finale.  I ran into a napping (only briefly) Graham as we left Spring Creek.  We took the easier and slower route past Kepler Cascades.  The rest of the evening, we were both zombie-esque as we recovered from an extremely long day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Settling In.

I've had an amazing past two weeks or so - I've been taking advantage of skiing and being out in the park as much as possible.  The previous weekend, Graham and I went to Bozeman, MT to get a few things that we were low on and some snacks for the room.  I had the morning off before we were supposed to catch the luggage coach out of the park, so I went skiing at Spring Creek with a couple of friends.

It's an absolutely beautiful and peaceful area - the creek runs along down a gorge that prevents the wind from whipping around.  The trail was (for the most part) a gradual downhill, making it pretty easy to ski on.  However, on our way back - we stopped at Lone Star Geyser and back the Howard Eaton, which is a pretty steep hill up and down.  (I fell a lot but had a blast!)

On our way back from Bozeman, it was an amazing sunset of the Absaroka Mountain range. The sky was on fire over the mountains.  The next day, I was able to take a tour from Mammoth to Old Faithful from our friend, Justin.  It was a little bit of a gray day (as most days are around here) but we got to see lots of bison and a coyote.  It's just nice to be able to move around the park a little bit since we are pretty much trapped in the Old Faithful area.

I went out one evening after work and skied around the Upper Geyser Basin.  It was a rare clear blue day with lots of bison (as they like the warm geothermal features) and quite a few coyotes.  The bison use their massive muscles in their shoulders to use their heads to push the snow around to get to the grass underneath.  It's amazing to watch them pushing it around and creating a mask of snow on their faces.

There are quite a few coyotes that hang out in the Old Faithful area (people attract coyotes), which I worry about on my way to work at 6 a.m. sometimes.  I found a nice spot to watch the sunset where the last rays of the suns light would shine through the steam from some geothermal spots.  However, after standing there for about five minutes a coyote came about 25 feet from me and settled in for the night.  I didn't stay in this spot because the coyote made me a little worried. 

Instead I found a spot where the sun was reflecting beautifully in this creek/marshy area.  (Bison often hang out in this spot - I'm glad they weren't there on this particular evening.)  I've got to go to work now; however, I won't be as delayed in sharing this past weekend (two 10 mile skis!).  Til then - best wishes.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


When I was a young kid, my family would take camping trips into the mountains of California.  As I grew into the awkward adolescent phase, we moved to Arkansas – where I was lucky enough that a mountain that I could explore at my leasuire loomed behind our neighborhood.  As an extra bonus, my aunt and uncle took a yearly two-week camping trip at Lake Ouachita State Park and always invited us along.

These trips greatly affected my thinking – in understanding that there was more to the world than just myself. There are fish as big as school buses swimming in our lakes (whether or not this is true – I was told this as a child probably by my Uncle David); there are birds that eat the unfortunate animals our automobiles kill; and there are trees that nourish our souls with their shade. I believe that subconsciously it was these experiences that allowed me to (with relative confidence) quit my job in the big city and head out to one of the last great wilds – Yellowstone National Park.

Since I have arrived here a few short months ago, I have felt a transition within myself – a growing of respect for the natural community around me. I can sit in awe at the beauty of one single spot and notice the hole under a tree that is probably home to some small forest creature, the nest in the tree with baby birds chirping for food and a fresh water puddle nearby that is a precious water resource to all of these animals and more.
When Graham and I took our road trip around, I was often caught wondering how so many people for so long just chopped down trees with the goal of conquering the land. However, it is only through the history that our world has endured that I am able to live the life that I have – a computer and internet where I can communicate my ideas, clean water and food to nourish myself with, and the ability to explore with comparable ease.

I recently read the book Wilderness and the American Mind, which is about the change of perceptions in nature from ancient Greek and Roman times to present day. (I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the history of how we view nature; however, it is a college dissertation so can be a bit dry at times, especially for someone not truly interested in the subject.) I am thankful for all the people who fought to have the few islands of “wilderness” left that allow for an escape back from which civilization came.

There is a paragraph in the last chapter, which tries to sum up and round out the previous 400 pages that I feel fits what I have grown to feel while being fairly removed from civilization:  “What wilderness provides is precisely this ‘time out’ from the civilized juggernaut. Its presence reminds us of jus how far we have distanced ourselves from the rest of nature. Wild places, remember, are uncontrolled, ‘self-willed,’ where the ‘wildeor’ are. We didn’t make wilderness; it made us. In it we stand naked of the built and modified environment, open to seeing ourselves once again as large mammals dependent (at the real bottom line) not on our technological cleverness but on the health of our habitat. This is where wilderness assumes not only ecological but ethical value. Because this is country we don’t own or use, we are open to perceiving its intrinsic value. The concept of wilderness helps our kind better understand the rights of other kinds to a place in this planet’s community of life; the actuality of wilderness provides that place. By definition we don’t dominate wilderness, and so it suggests the importance of sharing, which was, after all, the basis of the ethic of fair level, fair play or unselfishness seems to many to be the key to effective global environmentalism. This kind of ecocentrism is not ‘against’ humans; it transcends them and subsumes their interest in that of the larger whole.”

I had a friend who recently moved to New York City who told me that her life had just become to busy to try to retain that friendship. (I mean this as no reflection on her – just as an observation that I see in life in general and of myself in the past.) I see that a lot of people in cities are so self-centric that they are oblivious to the much larger world that is occurring beyond their few blocks of life that they maintain. On the other hand, I have a few city dwelling friends that remain accutely aware of their surroundings (even if not daily, but still inspire).  I want to constantly remind myself that I am part of a community called Earth and I never want to be to busy to help nourish any small part of it.