Thursday, December 26, 2013

July 2013 Remembered – Life And Death In Yellowstone

We have come to post number seven in my series “Twelve months in thirteen days.” I have always wanted to do this – post a remembrance once each day at the end of the year, for each month of this year, remembering people, places, and rocks I have gotten to know better in 2013.

As a seasonal interpretive ranger in Yellowstone I get asked a lot of questions by visitors.

A female elk grazes in West Thumb Geyser Basin

How deep is this pool? 
How hot is the water in the geysers?
How do they know where to put the boardwalks?

This summer an elk calf was found after having fallen into the near-boiling waters of Black Pool

There is one question, though, that I get asked more often than most others. And this past July visitors had the rare opportunity to see for themselves what the answer would be. It became a teachable moment for the rest of the summer.

Do animals ever fall into the hot springs?
Why, yes, they do, I would answer gently. Accidents do happen, and animals die. In an extreme environment such as a geyser basin there are no guarantees of anyone’s safety.

5102EdgeOfBlack Pool
Most of the larger bones of the elk calf were carefully removed from the pool...
...but some smaller bones remain to the right of the silica-encrusted branch.


It is the nature of life and death in Yellowstone.


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