Monday, October 18, 2010

"Sure Is Flat Here."

So I said to myself when I woke up somewhere in Minnesota Saturday morning. On the positive side, after five months in Yellowstone, climbing the hills of Duluth seems much easier than it used to. And it was nice to see some hardwood forests along the way, even with most of the limbs bare. But the couple who'd just met performing a variety of sex acts under the blanket across the bus aisle was a little odd. I think I'd probably have had a more satisfying relationship back in Yellowstone if I'd been that casual, but too late now.

Back in time in Bozeman, the lecture/slides evening about wolves in Yellowstone was very interesting. Wolves are a huge issue out there now--on the list, off the list, planned hunt, hunt stopped, mix and repeat. The evening was a reminder that as cool as Yellowstone is as a place to live, it's not complete freedom for the animals but only for as long as they don't interfere with human interests. Along with the elk and bears which were harassed by rangers while I was in Mammoth, I learned in Bozeman that a wolf had been killed near Old Faithful in 2009 (?) (out of sight of tourists) because s/he had followed people. And a pack who moved in and were killing elk right in Mammoth (also in 2009 if I remember correctly--the info is packed) were hazed out of the area. The folks who reintroduced wolves to Yellowstone are in favor of hunting them in the surrounding states as the only way to placate those (ranchers, hunters, etc.) who don't want them there at all. It may all be very practical, but just as Yellowstone isn't legally wilderness, it shouldn't be thought of as a complete sanctuary for animals either, just a relative one.

That final morning I'd stopped by the office and said my goodbyes, in some cases the last time I'll see those people. I left a box of my stuff tucked away by my desk. A coworker gave me a ride to Bozeman and we had a good talk all the way about the place and people--it was a good way to end it for now.

So here I am in Duluth. The Lake is still pretty; it's a great Lake, superior to any Yellowstone lake. But all the cars and houses and people (and not people I recognize from my little Mammoth community)--it feels like such a strange way to live now. But I've seen a couple friends, and had some good food (my old favorite "mock duck" in garlic sauce twice already), and oh yeah, I'm a Duluthian again. I signed a four month lease to live in the building next to the one I lived in for eight years.

I'll be back riding the buses early Wednesday to head east for a couple weeks to reduce my earthly possessions again and ship the remainder here, and to go to the veggie food fest in Boston. I'm leaving another box of my stuff here so I don't have to carry it back and forth, and can carry different stuff back instead of paying to ship it. I'm spreading myself out around the country like a long distance hiker caching supplies. I think I'll reunite us all in Yellowstone in the spring and see what happens from there.


Allan Stellar said...

Sad to hear about the wolf activists who are in support of hunting in Idaho in order to save the Yellowstone population. Yet, I also read about plans of reintroducing the gray wolf to northern California. This is an interesting time in the history of the wolf.

Happy travels. And as to the backpacking thing in Yellowstone...sounds like a good time. I'll get back to you on it... :)


Ruahines said...

Kia ora GT,
It is a beauty of a lake indeed. Personally I think Duluth is a highly underrated town. Good to read you are powering up those hills with ease!
I know Wisconsin is battling with pro hunt people whom now that wolves have reestablished their presence in the north want to shoot them. Human justification boggles my mind sometimes.

greentangle said...

Hello guys, from Massachusetts where I've had notes for a Greyhound post I was thinking of sticking on the 2nd blog but haven't bothered writing it.

Allan, here's the official NPS Yellowstone backcountry planner--not as much of a winging it environment as your trail hikes.

Without having really investigated other options yet, the southwest corner of the park (Bechler River area) appeals to me--not a lot of mountain climbing, fewer people, lots of meadows and water and waterfalls--the bugginess and wetness make it a late summer hike.

Robb, I always felt like I was very lucky when I was living in Duluth and amazed that vast crowds of people weren't moving there too, but I guess careers are the most important thing for most people. Of course, any place suffers in comparison after 5 months in Yellowstone and I didn't feel that excited about it when I was there for a few days but it will be a good place to spend the winter.

A guy I worked with this summer is traveling through parks now and sending photos--Glacier, Banff, and then on to the Northwest. Beautiful places out there in the world.

Bill said...

Although I support the notion of National Parks they seem to constantly provide for conflict between wildlife and humans. It would be difficult to designate most of these areas as wilderness (defined as free from human influence) as long as so many people are found there.

I have much sympathy for wolves. They are superior creatures. We should leave them and their habitat alone. It seem to be some sort of innate fear that we humans have for this majestic animal. Competition? Perhaps.