Friday, July 30, 2010

Beaver Ponds Trail

This was a nice five mile hike through woods and meadows with a coworker . Because of all the office accounting jobs I've had in my life, I've often been told, "You don't seem like an accountant." This hike gave me my first chance to say it to someone else, an actual CPA even. I covered myself by saying I'd always taken it as a compliment--she said she's heard it many times herself and takes it the same way. We traded life stories during the three hour hike--I hadn't done that in awhile and it was fun.

But enough about the humans, let's get on to the hike. Starting off past the bear warnings struck an interesting note after having heard about the campground attacks but those which have been seen in this immediate area are usually the safer black bears. The trail starts off with a good climb up a gulch, crossing a creek a couple times before switchbacking to the top of the hill and some nice views.

There was a wide variety of flowers along the trail, including some paintbrushes, but only this color combo was showy enough to demand a photo.

The trail itself had quite a bit of variety also but here's one look.

There were also several creek crossings, some by bridge, one by log, one by stones. There were lots of good places for bears to hide, and if they were there we didn't spot them. Eventually we made it to the series of ponds the trail is named for but I don't think there are beavers there now. I just saw one old dam and no lodge. The ponds were pretty though and one had a harried mother duck with what looked to be about twenty young darting through the water in all directions.

The ponds are around the midpoint of the trail and it was then we needed to put on the rain jackets. Some thunderstorms were passing to the northwest, and despite some flashing skies and long low rumbles, no major downpours hit us and the metal hiking stick protruding from my pack didn't draw any lightning bolts.

We listened to a trailside tale from this lovely resident.

Due to the rain, I didn't take any new photos from the open final couple miles of the trail, where we saw a couple elk and a rabbit, but here are a few from my last visit.

And a Blue Copper couple, I believe, to finish us off.

Tomorrow we're Tetons bound for sightseeing, not hiking. Photos bound to follow, probably some time Sunday.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Water Cooler Talk

No one talks about what was on television last night in my office in the morning. Most of us don't even have televisions. Nope, the morning chat here is about what animals you saw or which trail you hiked last night. I did hike a trail last night with a coworker and saw some animals and I'll post some photos later. But this morning the latest bear attack was the big news.

You've probably heard this in national news but I thought I'd stick a link in anyway. They've caught a mother bear and two of her three cubs after a campground massacree which killed one person and sent a couple more to the hospital with bites. All the people were in different tents--sounds like a coordinated attack plan. You just peel off the wrapper and the food's inside. That article called it the most "brazen" attack since the 80s. Checking some definitions online, I see synonyms such as arrogant, shameless, audacious, insolent. The nerve of those bears!

Like the season's earlier bear attack, this happened outside park boundaries so I won't count any of the present and future dead in the running totals, but a woman drowned last night in a river near Old Faithful so by my count the humans now lead the bears 5-4.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Monument Geyser Basin

Went here on a group hike Thursday night. It was a short but steep hike which had my heart pounding on the way up at frequent rest stops and several people slipping on the way down. My new trusty hiking stick served me well and my knee held up to the test.

I guess you could call the Gibbon River meandering.

It's more direct on this side from a lookout near the top of our climb.

A few views of the bizarre landscape at the top of the climb.

And a little color coming to the evening sky.

On the way back we stopped to check out a couple elk. This one looks like he might have a hoofprint on his side.

The organization which offers these hikes and other recreation is already starting to wind down its season, with no hikes scheduled here the first two weeks of August although they are still offered at other locations. Later in August there is a winter job fair which I'll check out for opportunities here and at several ski resorts although I don't expect to go that route. It seems hard to believe that I'm only a week or two from being halfway through my time here. I can sense that saying goodbye to this place and some people here is going to be an emotional experience.

No definite weekend plans so I'll see if the moment moves me to hike or veg out and read while my roommate works. Some night next week, a coworker and I are going to do the full trail which includes the section I covered in the recent Uphill post, and the following Saturday I'm off to see the Tetons for the first time.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Quoth the Ravens

Just some pics from this morning's pre-work walk.

A couple killdeer.

Three ravens had gathered on top of Liberty Cap. Took lots of photos but none were that great because of distance and poses. That won't stop me from inflicting you with a few of them.

There's a good sized fire--about 400 acres last I heard--going on in the park now, being fought on the ground and from the air. It's about 7 miles from one of the campgrounds at Yellowstone Lake. A small one was also discovered today near Slough Creek.

And here's the latest totals for bear (which is the only critter I've seen reported on) and human mishaps in the park:

Dead Bears
2 by hit & run vehicles
1 euthanized
1 by trap door to the head

Might as Well be Dead Bear
1 sent to zoo

Dead Humans
2 by motorcycle
1 by drowning while fishing
1 by gun suicide

Humans Sent Flying by Bison

You can keep track of the action via NPS Yellowstone news releases.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Uphill (Hike the Second)

After refilling the water bottle, I headed up the trail behind the dorm. Once up there I wasn't the only one enjoying the views.

A couple large raptors were circling lazily but even in zooms remained too distant and blurry to identify.

There were more flowering plants.

At this point I'd walked about two miles over the open portion of the trail. I continued on briefly into the woods but decided to start at the other end of the loop another time to reach the ponds which are at the midpoint.

Coming back, this looked a lot like a gravesite to me. A good one.

I took several photos of this butterfly; this is the least blurry. Some type of Fritillary, I think.

Arriving back above the dorm, I saw a large herd of elk who had apparently just arrived themselves.

Wait a minute. If all those elk are over there, why do all those people have their cameras pointed to the left?

Oh. This one has antlers, looking over his domain.

This was the first time I'd seen an adult male with the herd. A couple coworkers who've been coming here for years said it's about three weeks early.

Eat up, big guy. I saw a bull out in the woods with a lot more tines than you.


Downhill (Hike the First)

The Bozeman trip was a success--I now have an account at a bank with branches there and in Duluth, and I bought everything I wanted including some clothes for work and a collapsible hiking stick. It was very disorienting to be in 90 degree temperatures looking at all the snow remaining on the mountaintops surrounding town. I acted much like someone who's been hiking a long distance trail for weeks and finally made it to town--I ate a pizza with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and pine nuts which was positively orgasmic. The icy Glacier Ale which accompanied it was mighty tasty also. I followed that up with a pint of frozen minty chocolate chip yogurt at the coop, and stocked up on bagels and good bread.

I had good outdoor intentions for Saturday but apparently there was some readjustment required because I spent the day writing and drinking various brands of beer from the General Store. And it was good I ate a lot in Bozeman because at both lunch and dinner, I walked into the cafeteria, took a look at the offerings, and walked back out. I'm not exactly living on reds, vitamin C, and cocaine, but it might be healthier than what I eat some days.

So I was out early this morning with high hopes of hiking along a river because I've been feeling the need for more water in this dry place. And as more time goes by, I'm starting to feel like screw the bears, I'm going hiking and I'm doing it alone, because that's the way I like it. So I headed downhill toward the campground and the river beyond.

I saw some flowers.

And some trees.

Some of the trees came with birds attached.

And eventually I noticed I had other company on the hill.

I'm not sure if the correct phrase is "I'm glad she wasn't a bear", or "I wish she'd been a bear", but eventually I even saw the river way down there.

But even with my new third leg, one knee was complaining about all the downhill stress and I decided that if I'm going to blow it out, I'm going to do it on a much steeper group hike Thursday evening so I decided to head farther uphill where I could then do some flat walking.

I'll tell you about this morning's second hike later--more new flowers, more elk, and a creature never before seen on this blog!