Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stunning Spring

It was a lovely day with blue sky, light breeze, and temperatures in the mid 50s--the kind of day which still smacks me in the head as I look around and think how bleeping beautiful this place is. The ground is bare in Mammoth and while I may be a winter lover, at this point I hope it doesn't return.

Our gym is closed for a month for painting and repairs, so now that the earth is showing I've started climbing hills again to get my legs and lungs in shape. The first time I tried the mild uphill old dirt road I wasn't sure I'd even make it to the top without stopping, but have now started doing the beginning of the steeper Beaver Ponds trail instead. I've only done a half mile of the trail which is still muddy and snowy with pools of standing water.

I'm still discovering new things here, like a perfect-for-sitting rock with a view, and a trail to Lower Mammoth housing which is an even steeper workout. Along that trail today, I saw the smallest chipmunk I've ever seen. Bluebirds are back too.

Elk were everywhere today, from hilltop to hotel lawn.

So, some photos of herd animals.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Bears Are Back

Here's a pretty good column from High Country News about hiking in grizzly country which includes info on last year's Yellowstone deaths and why bear/human encounters are likely to become more frequent.

The recent warm weather not only has bears coming out of their dens, it was also teasing me with thoughts of hiking season. The dirt road to town (and much of the ground) was largely clear of snow and patches of my local trail were also clear. I did brief walks up the hill a couple nights after work, and was looking forward to a longer hike on a day off. But we got a few new inches of snow and now everything is icy again, so no big hike for me tomorrow.

I made a couple free book selections from last week's Amazon newsletter--here's my comment about them from the forum there:

"I got Lonely Planet Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks -- Hey, I live here, I figured I had to.
Lustfully Ever After: Fairy Tale Erotic Romance -- Hey, I . . . um, never mind."

I'm looking forward to comparing the Yellowstone book (which includes 40 hikes) to my own experience.

I've been going through a bit of a dark period lately
, but things seem to be working out. Concern I had about my summer job has been resolved. I've moved to the room I'll be in for the rest of the year, and I'm looking forward to my roommate returning in about a month. And things seem to finally be getting on track with someone I've been interested in for a long time. Spring's not in the air right now, but it's due back tomorrow and with some good melting, I might still make it to the trail Thursday.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How Many Stairs?

I've often wondered how many stairs I climb to get from the Lower Terrace street level to the Upper Terrace loop road. Unfortunately, I usually start wondering this when I'm halfway up and resting to catch my breath. That was the case again this morning, but I counted them on the way down.

283 stairs up the hill, 283 stairs,
You miss one step,
Trip or lose grip,
282 stairs down the hill.

At least by my usual route--there are alternatives which could change your total. Or you could just walk along the road which would be about two miles. Or, shudder, you could even choose to drive it.

So why did I do 566 stairs today? Because I like to look at scenes like these.

Click on the next one and you can see a rainbow.

On the way up today, I noticed there had been an avalanche since I last passed.

This is the same spot where a much bigger one last year destroyed some of the boardwalk.

By the time I came down, warning signs were in place.

Here's the next rerouting project before summer--hot water is starting to come over the boardwalk approaching Canary Spring.

Good news this morning--I found out one of my current winter bosses is going to be replacing my departing summer boss. This is the only person I could imagine dealing with after losing a great boss, so I'm breathing a big sigh of relief today.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

And Then There Were 23

I guess that's how many hours we have in this abbreviated day, but it's also how many of us seasonal workers I was told are left in housing here. Of course there are many more employees still around, but they're folks who live in real houses here or in nearby towns. I just had a chance to apply to become one of them if I'd wanted to take up car ownership, moving out of the park, driving, and having regular bills. I've mentioned that a couple people important to me here will be leaving. One of them is my summer boss, and if I would have been able to keep living here, I probably would have applied for the job. Instead I'm waiting to hear who will be hired and hoping for the best.

I don't have to hope about the time of year though. The greatly reduced number of people here brings out my enjoyment of the place. This is the time of year when I came back last year, and as far as the daily atmosphere it's definitely the best annual period here for me. This year, along with the quiet, we're having warm temperatures and beautiful days. Although winter is likely to come roaring back at some point, it won't be this week and right now it feels like hiking season is just around the corner.

I had a cyst taken out of my neck this week and woke up a couple days later with a trail of blood down my neck. I looked exactly like a vampire victim, but so far I'm still going out in the daylight and am confident I would still love garlic if they ever actually used it in our meals. Garlic certainly would have been a benefit of moving out of the park which I didn't consider.

A report was finally released on the second hiker death by bear last summer. I haven't read all of it yet, but one thing that jumped out was that the deceased allegedly told the campground person that he was a grizzly bear expert and didn't need to hear the bear speech which all campers get. The campground person told him anyway. The sort of grizzly bear expert who hikes alone without bear spray into an area heavily populated by grizzlies is one I never hope to become.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012