Yellowstone: Mary Bay

My field partner and I had fantastic luck this year with finding the unfindable. Seriously. Just like the salamanders hanging out in the Observation wetland, Mary Bay was even more of an unexpected surprise. There are only a handful of wetlands in the Park that have all four amphibian species and we were able to add Mary Bay to that list…it took us a few tries though. The bottom portion of Mary Bay is filled with small thermal pools that dryRead more

Yellowstone: Blacktail Plateau Drive

Welcome to Disneyland people! This site was another first for me and I certainly hope it’s not my last. Honestly, as soon as we parked our car and started hiking, we had elk bounding across our path and birds were perched on our shoulders singing Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah. I felt like I was in a cartoon. We followed a great horned owl flying from tree to tree along with its tubby two fledglings. This blew me away because I’ve never encountered anRead more

Yellowstone: Dunraven

Dunraven is another favorite of mine. It has beautiful old-growth forest with lots of small, manageable wetlands to survey. Even better, the hike is super majestic and downright enjoyable. You honestly expect trolls and fairies to pop right out and strike up a conversation. Despite its awesomeness, this year was a bit of a mess when it comes to Dunraven. It was intended to be a one-day survey that turned into a two-day depressing event. To make matters worse, all this went down onRead more

Yellowstone: Winter Creek

Welcome to Winter Creek, just past Grizzly Lake! This site was a first for me. I’m not sure how after all these years I’ve managed to avoid it but I finally got a taste. It was a little more than a three mile hike to our campsite but it felt more like ten with our packs on. Nevertheless, it was beautiful! And just like the area promises, we saw some grizzly footprints and some wolf footprints on the way in.Read more

Yellowstone: Gardner River

This outing took two teams to accomplish because of the five mile walk to the wetlands and the potential for sketchy wildlife encounters. A few years ago, my field partner was almost attacked by a grizzly mother with two cubs during the hike in. The mother literally swam across the river, with her cubs in tow, to charge the crew. Luckily, she was a good mother and swam over to save her little ones from being swept away instead of continuing herRead more

Yellowstone: Blacktail Pond

Surveying the periphery of Blacktail Pond (aka. Shaky Lakes) is like surveying the moon. It feels very much like you’re bopping around on unknown, untested terrain. It takes hours of navigating through quicksand shorelines, animal bones (some sun-bleached and some too fresh for comfort), a bounty of sunning snakes, aggressive nesting birds, thousands of trout fry and the occasional large adult, tons of fluorescent blue and green shrimp tooling around, only to find two tadpoles! However, it’s more than crews have found in previous years.Read more

Yellowstone: Blacktail Plateau

Week two consisted of surveying Blacktail Plateau, Fern Cascade and Gull Point. There were spotted frogs, chorus frogs and lots of salamanders seen and enjoyed. Severe storms just missed us on several occasions until our luck ran out yesterday when we had to postpone our surveys due to rain. I think that worked out for the best though because the place we were headed has at least ten grizzlies hanging around and the rangers were concerned. This coming week we’llRead more

Yellowstone: Nez Perce off the Mary Mountain Trail

If you don’t remember the disaster that is Nez Perce, just note that it was by far the worst site of last year that nearly crippled both Andrew and I. It’s a 7.5 mile hike each way on flat terrain (a few miles are sandy so imagine hiking in sand all geared up) and two to three miles between the wetlands. So in total it’s about 18 miles. Not to shabby. Plus, there’s usually unpredictable weather, stream crossings and wild predatorsRead more

Yellowstone: Week 1

Well, having completed my first week of the 2014 field season, I can say that it’s started out in a very unexpected way. First, I swiftly came down with a pretty severe head cold about a week ago, which has seemingly reinvigorated itself today. I think it was a combination of the dust in the air and the musty-ness of the dorm messing with my allergies and then the extreme temperature change throwing my body into a complete tailspin. IRead more