One Man's Paradise

Winter morning

“What good is the warmth of summer,
without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

John Steinbeck


How sweet next summer will be!

The current weather conditions produce a spectacle, which repeats itself every morning. Large ice crystals form overnight on tree branches in the cold valleys. Fogs forms in the morning around sunrise. The sparse cottonwoods turn into glittering creatures, mysteriously disappearing in the mist. A few minutes later, and the trees emerge back from the fog.

The trees sparkle as if somebody had installed a million crystal lights. Soon enough the crystals melt of the branches, circling gently to the  ground. Snow falling out of a blue sky.

The cottonwoods take on their stark winter appearance. Crooked, naked branches disappearing into the winter night.

Shine on.

 

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One Man's Paradise

The Valley of Wolves

This is Lamar Valley, where wolves, elk, bison, and moose roam. On the ridges you can see mountain goats and bighorn sheep. If you are lucky you may find a wolverine or a cougar track.

Located at the Northern end of Yellowstone National Park this gem is occasionally compared to the Serengeti in Africa. More than 4.2 million visitors come to the park annually. Most of them visit in the summertime. Only 100.000 visitors come to see this amazing place in the wintertime.

It is one of the few places in North America, where you can see wolves on a regular basis. There are about 100 wolves living in the park, where they are protected. To follow the fate of wolves in modern times is rather gruesome. Even in National Parks, such as YNP, wolves were until about 100 years systematically eradicated, using poison, traps, and bullets.

Bison experienced a similar decline. Within 30 years bison were brought to the brink of extinction. 15-30 million bison have roamed the plains and valleys of the West, when the first settlers showed. I thought for a long time that bison were killed for their meat and hide. Now I am learning that bison were at the center of the livelihood of First Nation people. The army recognized that and assisted in the killing of bison, as a mean to suppress First Nation people [1].

Interestingly, Lamar Valley was the place, where the last wild bison were captured and protected from hunters and poachers at the turn of the century. In 1995-96 wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone. One of the holding pens was and still is located in Lamar Valley.

A place, rich in history. One could argue a little piece of heaven (if it weren’t for the 4.2 million tourists). Imagine what this place must have looked like before Western civilization arrived. The same goes for other locations, that did not have the same spectacular landscape as Yellowstone and therefore, did not get the same protection.

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Into the Wild

Mammoth Hot Springs

“The world’s big
and I want to have a good look at it
before it gets dark.”

John Muir


Great quote from a wise man. I am on the same page.

Mammoth Hot Springs is such a place that deserves a visit. Located close to the North entrance of Yellowstone National Park, accessible by a board walk, never the same. I plan on visiting this place a few more times this winter, as I imagine the contrast between snow, ice, steam, and hot water during the cold season is just out of this world.

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Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and many other features of the park experience a break from the summer crowds. All roads inside the park, except the one from Gardiner to Cooke City, are closed to wheeled vehicles for the winter, and there is no riding with snow coaches or snow machines, yet. Currently, you could have Old Faithful all to yourself.

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mindfulness

Thanksgiving Day

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness:
just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it,
just warmth and shelter and home folks,
just plain food that gives us strength,
the bright sunshine on a cold day,
and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder


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Frog Falls, British Columbia

Laura Ingalls Wilder was just 15, when she become a teacher in order to support her struggling family. She had a blind sister, a paralyzed husband, and lost her home in a fire.  Her second child died at very young age.

In light of that, her attitude and writings are remarkable.

Today, tomorrow, and thereafter I am grateful for a priviliged life.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Inside Out, One Man's Paradise

Reflections

Sometimes it’s good to just put the paddle down and let the canoe glide. 

Simon Mainwaring

Chilkoot Lake, Alaska

It feels like i have been paddling a lot lately. Not literally, but figuratively speaking. From Alaska to the Mexican border, to the Canadian Rockies, a short week back to Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest by bike, ferry, plane, and car. 

Time to put down the paddle, for a while. I look forward to some downtime that involves cooking great meals, baking bread and pastries, siting in front of a crackling fire place, and inhale some crisp mountain air. 

Or is that already too much paddling?

Happy Halloween. 

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Inside Out, One Man's Paradise

Goodbye Alaska, for now

“Time to leave now; 
sharpen this feeling of happiness and freedom, stretch your limbs, fill your eyes, be awake, wider awake, vividly awake in every sense and every pore.” 

Stefan Zweig

Moving to a new place means to trade the familiar with the unfamiliar. It means leaving friends behind and meeting perfect strangers. The comfort zone becomes less comfortable. 

Moving also brings excitement, new opportunities, and change, which must have a lot weight in my case, otherwise I would not lead such a nomadic life. 

After living three years in Alaska I am heading South. Not that I couldn’t stand the mosquitoes in the summer or the cold and the isolation in the winter. To the contrary, I liked the serene life style and the harsh weather during the winter months up North. Life may not be easy during the dark season, but it is simple. It takes work to stay alive. Everything takes more effort: going places, fixing things in and around the house. Those efforts made me a appreciate life. 

So why leave? For me it’s like watching a movie more than once. I may understand the movie better after the second time and find a few new details the third time around, but in general I got the big picture. So, I am going to see a new movie next time.

Maybe I find a place one day that I want to call home for the rest of my life. Maybe…

In the meantime I keep wandering. 

Navigating the Inside Passage


Alaska bid a magnificent farewell with a misty Inside Passage and glowing Northern Lights. 

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Into the Wild

The Great Divide

For years I have been contemplating a really long bicycle tour.

holsteemanifesto

Growing up my first overnight trips away from home were bicycle tours with friends, involving camping or staying in youth hostels. I have great memories of those days. Later in life, I was grinding on mountain bike trails on short day trips to stay in shape. Now, I feel, the time has come to combine both experiences.

What better place, than to try the Great Divide. On paper this trail sounds epic. 2750 miles, climbing 5 times the height of Mt. Everest, that’s a lot. But, those are just numbers. Along those many miles, there is an amazing amount of wild and remote back country to take in. For most of us this will be a once in a lifetime experience.

So here I am. Old, overweight and out of shape. The bike ride will change all of that. That’s my hope.

If you want to follow that adventure you can do so at bikeeatsleepblog.wordpress.com.

Happy trails.

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