Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Final Chapter

The distant sound of a bull Elk bugling pierces through the cold night air. With a majestic full rack of antlers he strives to solidify his lineage. I cannot see him, but I know that sound well, and I know what he’s up to! From my back porch I watch as my thermometer drops lower and lower as darkness takes over. In the morning the sun finally rises through the misty frost and clouds somewhere around 7:30 am. It shines upon the Absaroka mountains revealing the new snow which has settled upon the alpine peaks. Summer is long gone, autumn is dwindling, and winter…winter sits upon my doorstep.
It has been a little over one year since I arrived to the interior of Yellowstone.  With picturesque dreams of snow gently falling in a faraway land, I moved to Yellowstone with the longing for adventure and truth. And adventure and truth I found.
I spent my year in Yellowstone exploring new trails, learning to identify new flowers, and watching the daily habits of animals both large and small. There were days when I pushed myself to new limits: surviving in -20’F temperatures, watching the persistent and seemingly never ending  snow fall on Memorial Day weekend, snowmobiling during extreme conditions, and  cross country skiing in the backcountry.   Other times I did nothing- a glorious nothing! A “nothing” filled with basking in the sunshine along a remote lake in the backcountry. A “nothing” of just listening to the wind as it blows through the tall Pine trees. Nothing except me and the Greater Powers which fuel the methodical cycles of the natural world; Greater Powers that humble us and remind us of how little we are in the grand spectrum of life on Earth.     
As I begin my second year in Yellowstone I should, in theory, know what to expect, but the truth is I don’t.  Every day in Yellowstone is different- new adventures, new challenges, and new life experiences. It is this lack of monotony that I crave.  I am like a child on the night before Christmas, dreaming and imagining of what is to come next.
I want to personally thank all of you who have taken this “One Year in Yellowstone” journey with me whether it was in body or in spirit. It is truly amazing how a place as magical as Yellowstone has the ability to bring people of all backgrounds and life experiences together. Through this journey I have made new friends and strengthen my relationship with old friends.  I have watched many of you become so inspired by this magical place that you ventured here yourself to experience it. I am so grateful to live and work in place that contains such power.  And long after I am gone I hope that Yellowstone will still be a place that unites people, a place where natural processes continue to persist regardless of what exists outside the boundaries of our park; a place that conjures up the dreams of little boys and girls who seek adventure and truth in a faraway land where the snow gently falls upon the landscape.