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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: North
Michelle Williams
Thursday, September 5
Yellowstone
Morning in Yellowstone

This morning after my cup of coffee and scrambled egg whites I decided to walk down to Madison River for a run. We are at Madison Campground in beautiful Yellowstone. To get to the river I had to walk through several loops of campsites and find the trail that leads to a particularly beautiful spot, discovered yesterday on my evening walk. I found the trail and had just broken through the trees when I realized that this time of day, around 8 AM, was the perfect time for spotting wildlife. And just then, I saw two female elk, referred to as cows, and one calf, grazing not twenty feet away from me. I immediately sat down, trying to make myself appear as non-threatening as possible, and slowly unzipped my camera case. I didnít move for an hour. We were on a rise about fifty feet from the lake with not another person in sight. The elk looked at me occasionally, but kept right on eating. The calf was the most curious, and every now and then she would look towards the lake and let out the saddest mewling cry. Down the valley, almost in answer, a bull was trumpeting over and over. After about ten minutes, I noticed movement near the water, and realized that another elk family was on their way towards us. At the same time, the bull that had been trumpeting from the other direction was making his way downriver.

The new family reached me first, and again, regarded me with about as much suspicion as they did the trees. There was a young bull, with velvet still hanging in strips from his proud, strong antlers, one cow, and two sweet little calves, who were mewling in the same way as the first calf. I realized they had been calling each other- the minute they met, they stopped crying and the three were inseparable for the rest of the morning. The bull was beautiful, majestic, and fearless. He grazed behind his family and stopped about ten feet away from me. I could see, in detail, the felt still on his antlers, the strength of his legs, the sweetness of his eyes. The older bull was on his mind, though. I could see him checking out his elderís progress towards the group. When the elder was just down the hill, not twenty feet from me, he lifted his head and bugled, and if Iím not mistaken, this bugle was not for the benefit of the cows. The younger bull paused in his grazing but didnít move otherwise. The cows and the calves had grouped together since the older bull had joined the group and were moving steadily towards the wood. Finally, the elder grew tired of the audacity of the younger and he charged. Only then did I realize how huge this bull was. He was years older than the young one- his antlers were gnarled and great and his body mass was double that of the younger. And the young bull knew it. He left his family without a thought, knowing from the start that his would be a losing battle. But he kept circling back, and the older bull kept chasing him away. The ladies and children didnít take much notice; they kept grazing, moving into the woods at the same pace they had taken all morning.

I finally had to leave to get back to camp, and when I did, the older bull was standing sentry next to his newly expanded family, and the young bull was nowhere to be seen. The whole experience was just overwhelming. Being so close to these magnificent creatures, getting some amazing pictures, but more than that, watching these animals interact as if I wasnít there. That was the best part. This is an intact ecosystem, particularly since the wolves have been reintroduced (with great success), and I felt honored to be able to be in the middle of it, even if just for an hour.

This was one of the best mornings of the trek. It was followed by a tour of Old Faithful with Park Ranger Katy Duffy, who was incredibly proud of her park and full of detailed knowledge about all of the surrounding geysers. After that, some of us jumped in one of our Pilots and drove two hours to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Yellowstone Falls. This part of Yellowstone was much less affected by fire than where we were camped and so the land was very different- grand lodge pole pines and great grassy fields- but there were still hundreds of buffalo and we watched both a pelican and osprey dive for fish. The Grand Canyon was intensely colorful. Towards the Falls, the rocks were bright yellow, and in the other direction the colored in reds, yellows, and oranges- a canyon in fall hues.

The night ended with presentations by the USGS and a local Park Ranger named Marc. Marc was captivating. This was a man in love with wild lands, and he had a way of talking about them that made me want to run out and spread his good word. I hope to be half as convincing as he when I talk about my passions. And now, we are gathered in the RV having a informal team meeting and journal writing session. We leave Yellowstone National Park tomorrow, and again, I will be sad to go. I need months to explore this parkÖ and I intend to return this winter to watch the geysers and the wildlife in the snow.
for Thursday, September 5
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: North
Michelle Williams
No rest for the wicked-- Michelle Williams spends a day at the office, typing up journal entries for the trekkers

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List of All Journal Entries
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Thursday, September 19
Michelle Williams
Back on the Green River
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Tuesday, September 17
Michelle Williams
Two Days In A Canoe
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Monday, September 16
Michelle Williams
Jammie Pants and a Wood Cabin
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Saturday, September 14
Michelle Williams
Wild Horses!
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Friday, September 13
Michelle Williams
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Tuesday, September 10
Michelle Williams
Reflections, September 10, 2002
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Sunday, September 8
Michelle Williams
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Saturday, September 7
Michelle Williams
Saturday Night Near Jackson Hole
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Thursday, September 5
Michelle Williams
Yellowstone
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Wednesday, September 4
Michelle Williams
Is it Wednesday?
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Sunday, September 1
Michelle Williams
Fall In Idaho
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Saturday, August 31
Michelle Williams
Saturday Morning, Day 32
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Thursday, August 29
Michelle Williams
Hump Day
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Wednesday, August 28
Michelle Williams
A Ghost Town, A Dug-out Canoe, A Birthday and A Compound Fracture
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Monday, August 26
Michelle Williams
Oh, Happy Day
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Sunday, August 25
Michelle Williams
Sunday, August 25th
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Saturday, August 24
Michelle Williams
A Better Day Already
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Friday, August 23
Michelle Williams
A Challenging Day
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Wednesday, August 21
Michelle Williams
Wednesday, August 21
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Tuesday, August 20
Michelle Williams
Tuesday, August 20
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Monday, August 19
Michelle Williams
Monday, August 19
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Sunday, August 18
Michelle Williams
Easy Like...
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Saturday, August 17
Michelle Williams
More on Saturday, August 17th
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Saturday, August 17
Michelle Williams
Saturday, August 17th
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Thursday, August 15
Michelle Williams
Thursday, August 15th
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Wednesday, August 14
Michelle Williams
My Top Ten List
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Tuesday, August 13
Michelle Williams
Freezing and Fires
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Monday, August 12
Michelle Williams
Explore the River
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Saturday, August 10
Michelle Williams
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Friday, August 9
Michelle Williams
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Thursday, August 8
Michelle Williams
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