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A Yellowstone How-to

June 20, 2016

Today (Sunday) was FANTASTIC! Our day started with a nice view of a pair of coyotes meandering through a big herd of bison, seeming to tease them a bit. Afterwards, we took our time watching the bison calves, mothers, yearlings, and big bulls graze the Lamar Valley.  We loved their social, and at times, hilarious behavior. Then we shared and discussed some of our research about brucellosis, a disease that bison can carry that is transmittable to cattle, making it important for the Park and nearby private ranchers to work together. Of course, as we were enjoying the scenery and a teachable moment, we were interrupted by the appearance of a large female grizzly and her cubs on the high hills across the valley. Bear sightings always trump any kind of conversation!!! From there, we drove up to the town of Silver Gate for breakfast.

After breakfast we headed back down to the park for an afternoon of quiet moments and personal reflection along a rocky creek. Just after we packed up and started for our next location, the grizzly made another appearance – so of COURSE we stopped for that!

Thus far we are about halfway through our trip in the most beautiful part of our country.  We’ve put in a few 17 hour days operating on 4 hours of sleep, but it’s ALL WORTH IT!  The  sound of the wolves howling, the sight of nesting owls, the view of the Lamar Valley at sunrise, and being able to avoid “tourist” crowds are all reasons to be up and exploring before dawn. We promise, you eventually will get your coffee or tea… But for now, let the sounds of this vast wilderness and the amazing wildlife which reside here be your caffeine.

If you are planning to tour Yellowstone with the museum or on your own, here  are some helpful tips to get you prepared: 

1. Practice squats! Some of the trails will give you a serious workout, especially if you’re not an avid hiker.  In addition, using the bathroom in the wilderness or even at a smelly pit toilet requires some quad muscles. So get to the wall and start sitting. 

 2. Ask questions! Not only is this a great way to learn from our amazing knowledgeable leaders, but it also allows you to get a nice break on an uphill trek. 

3. Talk to strangers: people who are already looking through binoculars and spotting scopes when you drive up have the inside scoop! And you never know when you might need a friend to help you find the grizzly or the wolves on the big landscape!

4. Get used to the smell of rotten eggs of you plan to visit the geyser basins. Enjoy the sweet smell of hydrogen sulfide gas and let it remind you of our incredible planet and its powerful geothermal forces!

5. Leave no trace: Become familiar with and comfortable with Leaving No Trace; a set of principles to follow when in nature and traveling.  Take NOTHING! LEAVE nothing! From trash to an apple core, we want to leave the environment and this park exactly the way it is. The ecosystem in Yellowstone can be very fragile. You may not think that banana peel is a big deal – but it is. 

6. Drink plenty of water! In a dry climate at high altitude dehydration can be a serious problem, especially because medical assistance can be a long drive away.

8. Have a set –  yet flexible – schedule: When you come to Yellowstone, you want to make sure you know where you want to spend your time. However, if a wolf or a grizzly make an appearance (or a mountain lion *fingers crossed*) you will want to be flexible enough to stop and appreciate the beauty of these majestic animals  regardless of your plans.

9. Get used to functioning on 4 hours of sleep. But even if you’re tired, this wilderness will wake your soul right up!

10. Be on time, Be open minded, have patience, and speak up! – Yellowstone is a huge place and there is a lot to see. Some people like to watch the bison graze, some like to travel the road looking for the unexpected, and others will happily sit and wait HOURS for a wolf or grizzly to appear as a glorified dot on your spotting scope for 30 seconds! In other words, be patient and understanding the people you are traveling with because everyone wants something different from the park. With that said, if there something you need or want, you should voice it! This is your world to see.!

One of our traditions is to end our days with a group quote, so that’s how we’re going to end this blog post…

“We can’t control the wind, we can only adjust our sails.”

Our internet has been spotty – sorry, no pictures this time! 

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jaimie Rudder permalink
    June 22, 2016 6:44 am

    I love the group quote. It is very fitting for life.

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