Sunday, May 07, 2006

Well there's a light in your eye that keeps shinin'
Like a star that can't wait for the night

It was a really nice hike yesterday.

I really didn't know the people with whom I hiked. Now I do, though. I sort of knew the guy, Phil, who actually invited me, but not that well. He was originally from Green Bay, and we 'Sconnie folk stick together.

We joined two couples- a Chinese couple, Gary and Dane, who teach at the university and another couple, Don and Diana, who were born and raised in Paradise Valley. The latter were an unbelievable fountain of information. They have been hiking, cross-country skiing or biking every weekend in the area for the last 30 years.

We hiked through the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone. Don's GPS (oh, I covet thee, Don's GPS... I want. I need. Gimme.) said the hike was 12.7 miles. That's a pretty long hike, but it was a good one.

Sadly, we did not see bears or wolves. We saw tons of elk bones along the hike...

And a torn-up carcass, which always makes me nervous. It's like hanging out in the grizzly's frig. Get out of there.

So there was certainly predator activity in the area. We just didn't see them.

We saw deer, bighorn sheep, antelope, elk, and bison.

We also saw a freaking monstrous osprey.

He was hanging out in a really big nest, about ten feet wide, across the canyon with his mate, who was surely sitting on some eggs. His wingspan was over 7 feet.

These pictures do not do the scene justice, because you do not have a frame of reference for size.

The nest-

Don chose this hike for its low elevation to avoid snow. We stayed between 6500 and 5000 feet. A lot of the hike reminded me of California. Well, not the people, cars, houses and pollution part. The scrub desert part.

This guy was hanging out at the trailhead. He's re-growing his antlers.

Those are bighorn sheep. They were across the river from us. Something had spooked them, and they ran over that hill.

I wonder what spooked them. Some other hikers whom we passed saw a wolf in that vicinity.

This guy was blocking the trail. I was leading at the time. He had his head down, so I couldn't see his gargantuan cranium at first glance. All I could see was a large animal with cinnamon coloring. I was hoping (and simultaneously afraid) that it was a bear.

We gave him a wide berth nonetheless.

His buddies were hanging out.

(By the way, bison shit is heeee-yuge, and it is everywhere. I am pretty sure these animals have no brains, for they have surely shat them out all over the landcape.)

When you hike for six hours with people, you have some interesting conversations.

Hiking stories, life stories, trivial chats about gear, wonderful tips and suggestions.



And, of course, plenty of time for Internalizin', whichis what hiking is all about for me.

It was good to get out there. I am pleasantly sore, and I slept the sleep of the dead last night. Today looks to be cloudy and rainy, so we lucked out on the weather.