Saturday, August 27, 2011


Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.
                                                     -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Paintbrush Divide.

Paintbrush Divide.

This past weekend Graham and I headed down to the Tetons for some backpacking. After talking to the Visitor’s Center Backcountry Office, we headed to Cascade Canyon, to the North Fork with the possibility of going over the Paintbrush Divide and down Paintbrush Canyon. The Ranger-on-Duty warned us that unless if we were intense climbers that we would probably need an ice axe – so our plan was to go as far up the divide as we felt safe and then turn around when necessary, which never ended up happening.

The Grand Tetons.

We parked by the String Lake Trailhead and started out going around Jenny Lake to the exact point that Bailey and I took the shuttle to a few weeks ago. It was super crowded (and no one moved over to the side to let us pass – we moved over for everyone else except two small parties)! We finally made it up and past Inspiration Point, where we heard there were two moose a short distance further (which kept the mass crowds moving down the trail a bit further than otherwise). 

Bull Moose.

We did run into two big Bull Moose. One of them was resting in a swampy area slowly chewing on grass and cooling off from the heat of the noonday sun. The second one was standing in a shady area munching on some willow a short distance (maybe five to 10 feet) from the trail where a crowd had gathered to photograph. We quickly moved away from this scene since Moose are known to be a bit aggressive and we didn’t like the proximity.

On the trail.
After we turned up the North Fork, we steadily climbed ‘til we were where the trees were significantly smaller and sparser. This was where we set up camp for the night while the majestic Mount Owen and Grand Teton proudly stood watch over us. There was a mother Marmot and her baby that hung out on a rock about 10 feet from the tent for most of the evening – just lazily watching the sun go down. 

Marmot Mama and Marmot Baby.
Shortly after we were done making dinner and relaxing for the evening, we heard what sounded like a low grumble off in the distance, which caused me to let out a small yelp. Graham jumped with a start as well – our first thoughts going to a bear. However, it turned out to be a harmless hummingbird that had appeared very briefly. As we were getting ready to crawl in the tent, the mountains turned a brilliant red as they caught the last rays of the sun’s energy. 

Tetons at Sunset.

The next morning, we started our trek up to Paintbrush divide. We went up the rest of Cascade Canyon to Solitude Lake, which still had ice covering about a third of the sub-alpine lake. From there we took an abrupt turn to start climbing up the canyon wall. There were a few small patches of snow, but nothing that was troublesome. 

Graham and Solitude Lake.

The divide was stunning (see first photo) – we were above a bowl that overlooked Mount Woodring and Mount Moran to the north and The Jaw to the south. We paused here to enjoy a simple lunch of some tuna fish, pretzels and an apple. From there were traversed down the bowl and through Paintbrush Canyon. About a third of the way down was through snow, so I was glad we were going down this way (as opposed to up) so we could slide down on our butts (which can be a rather cold endeavor) or on our feet.

Graham on a snowy slope.

It was a great weekend that wore us out. I am glad that we get out and enjoy the beauty that we have around us at all opportunities that we have available.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


We have a Yellowstone calendar behind my desk (and I couldn’t even give you the details of who puts it out or who took the pictures). A fellow friend of mine and I were discussing one of the photos – a photo of some grass. It’s a strange calendar picture so he commented, “Who takes pictures of grass?!”

I do! I love grass! I didn’t think about it at the time – but I even have a tattoo of some grass. (So does my awesome Sister!) I get questions about it all the time and I never really discuss the meaning behind it – but I think it’s my favorite tattoo.

Jack Rabbit during early spring.
When my Sister was just getting into making jewelry, she made this piece that I instantly fell in love with. After I first saw it, the image of it stayed in my head for weeks. I was learning a lot about food at the time – and how cows evolved naturally to eat grass (and chickens to eat grass/bugs and pigs to eat anything as long as they can dig for it and…).

I partially wanted it to remind me of my amazing Sister who has the passion to do anything she sets her mind and heart to accomplish. (She recently got the same tattoo in the same place – with the addition of my name underneath!) I partially wanted it to remind me of our responsibility to keep the food chain natural – and the Earth as it developed with as little of our involvement as possible.

Geyser Hill at Sunset.
Since that time, I’ve learned so much more about the natural cycle that humans don’t consciously shape. The wild animals that roam freely in my backyard remind me that the earth doesn’t belong to Homo Sapiens but that it we are blessed to share this planet with a great many creatures – many that are struggling to survive in a harsh environment that is to shrinking smaller than ever patches.

Pronghorn are some of the most beautiful and exotic (in my opinion) looking creatures in the park. They are known as the Antelope of North America because they can run up to 60 mph for up to an hour, which allows them out run any potential predators.

They have the longest land migration path out of any North American land animal. They summer in Yellowstone (Northwestern Wyoming) and travel 150 miles to winter in southern Wyoming. Archaeological evidence indicates that pronghorn have traveled this same ancient migration route, which is less than 150 yards wide in some places, for at least 6,000 years. As more and more of the land in between is being divided up (and yes, Wyoming has stayed wild enough that this is just now becoming an issue), the Pronghorn are running into more and more issues with the barbed wire fences that have been put up around gas fields and in private lands. Many of Pronghorn make it through the fences; however, others get tangled on their way through and don’t make it to their destinations (or get stopped along the roads due to passing cars). Their numbers are decreasing as dangerous man-made obstacles divide their home range into smaller segments.

I have truly learned the importance of protecting our natural resources and the value of protecting that which we have managed to save thus far. I want to start doing what I can to help the small patches of native grasses (and all that lives on this amazing planet) continue to thrive where they have for thousands of years. I want to start sharing my knowledge that I’ve learned and experienced. I like that my tattoo started with inspiration from an amazing person – and has evolved into inspiring me to start to do more with my passions.
Canada Goose and Gosling.
I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to do – yet. As I work down this path, I will share what I learn. I truly believe that the more I have learned about the little things I can do to help, the more that I apt to participate because (as NBC, I believe, says) the more you know…

P.S. Happy Birthday Sister!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Avalanche Peak

I never would have imagined that I would have the joy to stand on mountaintops, camp in Alpine meadows or rest on the edges of canyon rims. I couldn’t be more thankful that the path I have chosen to meander down is a breathtaking journey.