One Man's Paradise

Good Morning – 2018

“If I can’t stay where I am,
and I can’t,
then I will put all that I can into the going.”

Jeanette Winterson


Googling for resolutions, I came up with the above quote. The first day of any year, is a good opportunity to reflect on the past and think about what lies ahead. In fact, any day of the year is an opportunity to that.

I have met a handful of people in past couple of weeks, who have told me coming to Yellowstone was a life-changing event. Some have made the park and its surrounding settings their permanent home. Others come back, as often as possible.

I am taking it all in at the moment: Bitter cold mornings, enjoyable afternoon sunshine, winter storms…

 

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One Man's Paradise

Lamar River

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Lamar River, Wyoming

Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar II was a professor of law, a politician, and diplomat. He was a staunch opponent of Reconstruction, and did not consider freedmen and other black Americans fit to vote. He promoted “the supremacy of the unconquered and unconquerable Saxon race.”

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Despite that racist conviction he had an illustrious career. Lamar was confederate minister to Russia and special envoy to the United Kingdom and France. He also was a professor of metaphysics, social science and law. He served as a lieutenant colonel of the 19th Mississippi Infantry Regiment for one day. in 1856 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives  and served as United States Secretary of the Interior under President Grover Cleveland. From 1887, he was a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, where he served until his death on January 23, 1893.

During an 1884–85 Geological Survey, Geologist Arnold Hague named the East Fork of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park the Lamar River in his honor.

One of these days the United States Board on Geographic Names may reconsider that questionable honor?

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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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