Would You Believe Springtime In Yellowstone?

Today was the final day of training for this summer’s crop of interpretive rangers here at Grant Village in Yellowstone National Park. Tomorrow our visitor center opens and we hit the ground running until the end of September. One of our all–time favorite duties is to lead Park visitors on a two–mile hike from West Thumb geyser basin up to an overlook with views of Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka Mountains to the east.

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Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka Mountains

After a fairly mild winter season by Yellowstone’s standards, winter weather returned with a vengeance today. Yesterday was serious sunny t-shirt weather, while today gray skies spit sleet and hail and rain blew sideways in the squalls over Yellowstone Lake and West Thumb geyser basin.

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Fishing Cone hot spring in Yellowstone Lake, West Thumb geyser basin

It’s been eleven days and 790 miles since my last post (does it sound like I’m confessing some grave sin here?). Well, I had to get where I was going, and I did travel 2oo sightseeing miles out of my way to get there. Plus it’s hard to type in a tent when an Idaho wind is threatening to blow you all the way to Kansas.

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City of Rocks, Idaho

The Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City has recently moved into its new home high on the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. Since I was going to be in the city for a few days on my way to Yellowstone, I decided to stop in and have a look around. I hatched a big–city plan to take Trax light rail from my deluxe downtown couch–surfing accommodations in the morning, wander around the museum for several hours, hop back on Trax, and catch a late afternoon movie.

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Level 3 walkway at the Museum of Natural History leads to First Peoples gallery

We packed the car this morning and it was an exercise in practical physics trying to fit as much mass as possible into that enclosed blue space. I honestly thought I was bringing less stuff than last year, but it turned out to be just as much – it’s just different stuff. If I tried to cram one more half bag of cereal or even a pair of socks into the appropriately named Space Cadet cargo carrier I would have had to climb up on the roof and sit on the bleeping thing so it could close.

Ready to roll