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: Solfatara

Yup, still working my way through Yellowstone pics. These ones will not disappoint! No way in heck! Solfatara is another fun site with tons of wetlands which are not too far from a trail. The trail is an absolute godsend because the forest is all downfall with sparse regrowth from previous burns so there’s a fair amount of hurdling involved. It takes about four days to survey the site so it’s gargantuan but extremely manageable. Adding to my already impressive list of animal encounters this year,Read 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: Storm Point

Storm Point is my absolute favorite hiking trail in Yellowstone. It’s short, non-strenuous, easy to get to and the views are breathtaking. Additionally, I always have interesting animal encounters here. Last year it was an overly-friendly squirrel doing vaudeville, complete with a top hat and cane, right there at my feet. This year was no different. I witnessed a nail-biter of a marmot squabble during my walk. As I approached the rocky cliff pictured above, an older couple warned me that there was a marmot scuffleRead 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: Lewis Lake

I love Lewis Lake. It’s like working at a luxury resort and if they ever try to give it to another field crew I’ll go all Cuckoo’s Nest on them. Sadly, many of its wetland sites are permanently drying up. That’s the bittersweet part of surveying here. Still, I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. This is a site that I know better than the back of my hand and I rarely need to consult the GPS to locate even the most remote wetlands. There’s just something aboutRead more

Yellowstone: Crawfish Creek

Although I enjoy crawdads (or crayfish to us northeasterners), I do NOT enjoy Crawfish Creek. Remember the fire swamp in The Princess Bride? It’s just like that. It’s fun to watch in a movie but not fun to experience in real life. One minute you’re tromping through the forest and the next you’re being swallowed whole by thermal, mucky quicksand. For a few minutes I was sure that I sprained my ankle and I had no idea how I was going to be able to walk to theRead 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