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Showing posts from February, 2014

Encounters in Yellowstone

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I never enjoy hearing that alarm go off at 4 AM in Cooke City, but I have learned to treasure this morning. It is the moment when our group is finally tied together-- in the way many groups are united-- by a common uncomfortable experience. My travelers have to finally ante up. Up to this point, they have just had to climb into the vehicles and let us whisk them away to amazing places in (generally) total comfort. But this morning is when folks face the facts that wolf watching is never easy. No matter how fresh the fruit, how experienced the guides, or how nice the equipment, there is no way to get around the reality that the best experiences in this ecosystem happen at first light, if they happen at all. Discomfort is required.
I like getting to breakfast early to watch the group arrive over a cup of tea. Many folks stumble into the dim cafĂ©, sit down next to the fireplace, and quietly look down at their cup of coffee, groggily sipping away. Others come in with their guns drawn, ho…

Wildcat

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A bobcat is so rare to see in Yellowstone, or practically anywhere else for that matter, that I thought this little guy deserved his own post. We were cruising alongside the Gibbon River in the snow coaches when we caught word that a bobcat was seen hunting ducks along the Madison just moments ago. I didn't know how fast our bombardiers could drive until we hammered down for the bend in the river where he was spotted. When we arrived, a fellow guide had spotting scopes trained on the underside of a big boulder next to the river. The cat creeped out from beneath the rock and onto the shoreline next to us, slinking its way upstream to occupy a dark corner near the water's edge where a couple of mallards were dabbling. As the cat got ready to leap out over the water, the ducks began quacking nervously and paddling against the current away from the suspicious figure in the shadows. With his cover blown, the bobcat moved to the sunny side of the rock and sat down for an afternoon n…

Photography Expedition into the Winter Wild

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"By wresting a precious particle of the world from time and space and holding it absolutely still, a great photograph can explode the totality of our world, such that we never see it quite the same again."-Robert Draper, National Geographic, 150th anniversary photography issue.
It was with this quote in mind that we set off into Yellowstone. Our goal was to enter into these parks with the attitude of the famous expeditions before us. To witness this place for the first time. To feel alone on the planet amid the gurgling and thumping geysers that exhale steam like sleeping dragons. To hold our breaths as coyotes slink by with noses to an invisible trail. To share in the rigors of life in the cold alongside frosty bison and ravenous elk. And to capture this experience in photographs that would transcend their two dimensional borders. Photographs that capture the sound of bighorn sheep clambering on the cliffs, the sulfury smell of a hot spring, and the feeling of the air freezi…