"There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sunday, March 27, 2011


The calendar may say spring but the only sight of spring that I see is the growing brown spots on the hills surrounding Mammoth.  I guess we are moving in that direction but the clouds still spill snowflakes down upon us and the wind still blows.  The sun is still lacking but I have noticed that the days are reaching into those more comfortable 40's temps.  I have been waking up to snow on the ground and my windshield lately but the ever growing supply of mud in the Yak does let me know that spring is slowly but surely creeping into the Mammoth area.

With the my job and location transition right around the corner I find myself doing that unenviable task of boxing up my possessions (this is my 6th time in 2 years).  Since Patrick had things that needing to be moved back to the Lake apartment we loaded up my vehicle and headed towards Lake after a careful review of the weather report.  The skies were fairly sunny in Mammoth but after heading up Golden Gate, around Bunsen Peak and finally making the crest onto Swan Lake Flats we found, as can be expected, different weather conditions completely.  More snow and wind.  Nothing too horrible that made us want to turn back.  As had been our experience the previous Saturday we only saw one bison as we made our way to Canyon.
At Canyon we found that a pathway had been plowed to the door of the Adventure Store.  In the back of the store we found that a plow had been there, too.  But still the snow towered above our heads.

We also found men working hard to clear the snow from the roof of Canyon General.  They used long saws to cut the snow into huge blocks.

And then slid the blocks down and off the roof.
On our trip through Hayden Valley as we headed south we saw only a handful of Canada Geese and a few ducks swimming in the Yellowstone River.  It wasn't until we got past Mud Volcano that we saw our first wildlife.
A coyote found itself a bison carcass to scavenge.  As we sat and watched this nervous little fella a bald eagle swooped in and grabbed a claw full of wet dead grass.
The eagle flew off with its prize.
On our way back from Lake we found a totally different animal scavenging the carcass.  While the very full coyote napped in the sun a few hundred feet away this sly little fox came in to fill its stomach also.

During the winter months at Lake the residents use this garbage truck to dispose of their household trash.  This pine marten has decided to make the garbage truck its home.
We enjoyed watching the antics of the pine marten as it crawled over the cab of the truck, behind the cab and even onto the wheel and stick its head out of the wheel well.  The notoriously crafty animals have been known to find their way into the apartments through drier vents and holes as small as 3 inches.  Last fall a resident came home to find a pine marten running around their apartment and and their pet canary dead.

Coming back through Hayden we found this coyote curled up at the top of a hill watching another coyote running around the valley floor (that tiny little dot is the other coyote). 

The other coyote eventually started to make its way up out of the valley (yet again, that tiny little dot is the coyote).
The bison, elk and antelope have been making a showing at the north entrance.  Bison have been wandering around  the store in Mammoth reminding us that even a task as easy as taking out the garbage can be wrought with challenges.  With just over a week to go for me I am beginning to have that pit in my stomach that lets me know that it is never easy to leave good friends behind, even if it is only temporary.  With promises that we will see each other over the summer months we gear up for our goodbye.  I will be seeing Judy and Andrea at Manager Meetings in West Yellowstone but it's always sad to think I won't see them on a daily basis.  Only one more Taco Tuesday to go and we will be hanging up our sunny yellow hats and aprons.  New friends are right around the corner, as is a new and exciting 2011 summer season at the Adventure Store.