Sunday, July 31, 2011

Firsts: Hits and Misses

It's been a busy weekend here in my little town. Although I still have 2 1/2 months to go on my current job, things are starting to wind down for the recreation program with one of their employees leaving this week. Combined with the fact that my roommate's wife is visiting and I have the room to myself for a week, it has seemed like a time for reflecting on the year.

In some ways it has been a disappointment. Because of injury or illness or the winter's long-lasting snow, I haven't done several of the activities I was originally signed up for, from whitewater rafting and reaching higher elevations than last year to a hike into an area with lots of grizzlies (they saw one on a carcass which would have been a first for me).

But I was here in the months of March and April for the first time, and I'm going to be here in December, January, and February for the first time. I've been on ten or so hikes in the park that I didn't get to last year, ate the free test meals for the cookout and the restaurant, and I saw the first bear I've seen while unprotected by metal--more firsts. And we had the construction coyote hanging around for a couple weeks.

On Saturday alone, I had three big firsts. The one that was planned was kayaking. A group of us, mostly kayak virgins, went to Yellowstone Lake for an evening employee version of this trip. Unfortunately, the time on the water got cut short because of rain and wind and we didn't make it as far as intended but it was fun to get some basic experience. I'd probably do it again next year or even in a couple weeks when it's offered again if there's space remaining.

The ride back to Mammoth included my first trip over Dunraven Pass in the dark. It's close to 9000 feet high and considered by many the scariest road in the park.

I was considering taking my camera out on the water with me since I'm thinking of getting a better one anyway. But I took a few photos on the way to the lake which I didn't want to risk. The biggest first of the day--I saw my first moose!

That's the best of the shots I got through the window as we passed him lounging in Floating Island Lake. Even in the midst of a hit, there can be a miss--here's the photo I really wish had come out sharper.

I've been looking through my photos from the past two years to choose which to enter in the employee photo contest (limit of one in each of five categories--Landscape, Closeup, Wildlife, People, Humorous) and that one might have been a contender for my Wildlife choice if it had come out better.

Today I decided I couldn't stay off the trail any longer and decided to test my foot on the local five mile long Beaver Ponds Trail. Because it was a last minute decision, I didn't prepare as well as I usually do and made two mistakes for the first time--no bug spray and a short sleeve shirt.

It wasn't long before I was regularly rubbing my hands over my arms, but soon my hands would no longer slide, sticking to a glue of blood, sweat, and mosquito corpses. When I started wishing for a bear to come down the trail to take a bite worth taking out of me, I began to have doubts about my mental state. When I started wondering if bear spray would work on mosquitoes, all doubt was removed.

Along with the hordes of mosquitoes were many dragonflies and butterflies which were some compensation. But since they were making me stop and become an easier target for the mosquitoes, I wondered if it might be an anti-human conspiracy.

There were other insects most people wouldn't consider as attractive, but I loved the Darth Vader helmet up front and the metallic gleam in the rear.

But it's not just insects along the trail. There's red in green and a rodent in a root.

And you'll see a few flowers along the trail.

I swear this next one is not from someone's garden.

As for my foot, it started hurting a bit about 2/3 of the way through the hike. I considered turning around and going back, but decided to finish the hike. I'm icing the foot as I type.

There's an old Danny O'Keefe song with the line, "Now a story needs a moral, and a song must have an end." I'm not sure if that applies to blogs as well. But in case it does, I'd like to tell you that into every pile of horseshit, a butterfly must fall.


Terry said...

Great shots!

greentangle said...


Jain said...

Congrats on your Moose sighting! I'll be in Moose country in a couple of weeks, though I don't expect to be so fortunate. For a huge beast, they sure are elusive.

greentangle said...

Good luck. I'll send out Moose vibes! Give my regards to Moose country.