Welcome to my (Claire Stout) blog about my summer internship in Yellowstone National Park. I am brought here by the Student Conservation Association and given a scholarship by Americorps for my college tuition. I am interning under the head ranger at the Tower Ranger Station. This blog contains stories of my adventures and what it is like to live here in the park. There are also photos that contain me, the people I work with, and interesting things I encounter. Feel free to leave a comment and enjoy!

Yellowstone Album 3

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pleasant Rants

One thing I've noticed recently is that my hands are always dirty. I'm not saying that it is necessarily a bad thing, it's just something I've noticed. My arms are wicked tan and I've got a watch tan line. As of two weeks ago, I had gotten acclimated to the elevation (I am about 6500 ft above sea level according to my topo map)and stopped huffing and puffing every time I tried to walk somewhere.
But I really like it out here. The work, the heat, the fact that it gets down to 35 at night and no one cares that I leave my window open.
I love the afternoon thunderstorms. You never know what you're going to get. It could be lots of thunder, lots of lightning, rain, or hail. It even smells good here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Picture Post!

I have conqured the difficulty of posting pics on blogger! As you shall see, All of my pictures are at a slide show at the top of my blog. This will be album one. Epic win for Claire. If you have any questions about a certain pic, comment on this post and I shall answer your questions. Album number two will come eventually, and with it a post. Enjoy!


So for the past few days, as well as today and tomorrow, I've been in the the backcountry office. This mostly consists of issuing backcountry permits, recommending hiking trails, and answering visitors questions. It is small, confining, lonely, and at times frustrating. However, I am getting much better at conversations with visitors, and I admit that I know the trails well because of the topo-maps that I stare at all day.

But yesterday after I got off work, myself and Sara got a well deserved break and went out to the Lamar valley in search of wolves. Well first, we actually went to the Tower General store and got ice cream. We went west and as we were passing the junction of the Soda Butte Creek and the Lamar River, Sara spotted a beaver on the side of the road in a small runoff of the river. We immediately pulled off and started looking at it. It was so adorable! It made little chewing sounds as it was eating.....well, whatever it was eating. I have pictures of us near it, but I'm still trying to figure out how to post pictures on this.

Next we came across a group of people, and their scopes, looking upon a carcass with 3 grizzly bears and a wolf on it. We found our wolf! Unfortunately we were so far away that we could only see it through other people's scopes. Not even our binoculars were strong enough to get a good look at it. But the visitors here were really nice and let us look through some of their strong scopes. We got pretty good views of the three bears and the wolf.

Next we continued on to trout lake. We went up a steep hill about a half mile until we reached the lake. Since it was so late, and no one was there, we saw the female otter and her pups playing in the water. We sat quietly and watched for about 5-10 min and it was about nine o' clock. So we turned around and hiked back to the car, talking loudly as to scare away any bears.

On our way back as we were passing little America, we saw a black bear not 30 yards off the road. So our whole hour and a half adventure had great wildlife sightings.

I think I just figured out how to post a picture, with a post, so I'm going to post a map of the Lamar valley to show the areas we were at. Click on the picture to make it bigger.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The people I am working with

So there are about 13 people that I work with here, all of which are extremely nice people and fun to work with. First there is Collette, she's an LE ranger and the boss here at Tower. She's very nice and always works long hours after her shift is over for the betterment of the station. There's Ron, another LE ranger, and his wife Sarah who is a voulenteer here at tower. Sarah's good with horses and helped me pick out the riding boots that I'm going to get. There's Ranger Dooley who lives in Gardner and is also an LE ranger here. He used to be an SCA back in the day, (Like me!), and he said he's going to try to take me out in the backcountry with the horses. My roommate is Kate. She's a backcountry ranger and is trained in all sorts of stuff like fire fighting, and using all sorts of tools. John K. is a general ranger who used to work at PBS in boston. He used to work with the wolves and now he deals with all sorts of wildlife in relation to the visitors. He's very good at bear jams. Gabe is a General ranger who knows all about the backcountry office and trails. There are Brady and Amanda who are new LE rangers here and are awesome people. Paul, who is only here for another week and a half, has been an LE ranger here for a while and knows all sorts of things. Connor is the closest to my age, 18, and the only one younger than me, and he's a general ranger. John M. is an LE ranger who has a dog named Tango who is absolutely adorable, (and very well trained). He's the one who showed me how to install/replace a strut on a car. Liz is a General ranger here as well and is majoring in parks and recreations in college.
There are many more people who I've met and worked with, but these are the main ones that I'll probably be mentioning a lot.

Ah! The fresh smell of Calcite Springs

One thing that makes Yellowstone different from other parks, (and the main reason why it was created as the first national park), is because of its geological thermal features. Trappers and explorers who were among the first to view the Yellowstone area told stories of boiling hot water spurting out of the ground hundreds of feet in the air, hot pools of blue and orange water, and boiling mud. Many of these people were ridiculed for the supposed lies they told because no one believed the stories they told were true. It took two government funded expeditions to confirm the existence of geysers, mud pots, and hot springs.
There aren't many thermal features near where I'm living. However, there is one: Calcite Springs. If there is one thing one should know about thermal features is that they reek of rotten-egg smell. Sulfur, I think. Although calcite springs is about 2 miles away from Tower Ranger Station (Where I live), we are lucky enough to experience the pungent smell of the springs sometimes in the morning. Last night I had left my window open. This morning I woke to that smell.
Despite the discomfort to my nasal cavity, I am having lots of fun and learning many new things. Just yesterday, I learned how to replace a strut on a car. John M., one of the LE rangers here, let me help him with his car that he was fixing himself.
I'm also learning the names of as many plants, (and their properties) as I can as well. So far the wild flowers I know and recognize are Arrow-Leafed Balsam root, Larkspur, Flocks, Bluets, and Sticky Geranium. I also learned that even though flocks kind of looks like wild strawberry blossoms....the hard way. That poor strawberry flower didn't even have time to ripen before I accidentally stepped on it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The internet is availible to me!

[Disclaimer: Blogger doesn't have automatic spell check, so expect mistakes. If you know me well, you know that I'm not the best speller in the world]
Alright....So I finally have Internet access here! Which means I can finally start posting what I am actually doing. I know I was a bit vague with the details before I left, but that was because I was unsure of what was going to be happening as well. (oops!)
So basically, I am 'sent' here by the Student Conservation Association (SCA). Officially, I am a volunteer. I don't get paid by the hour. I get an allowance from the SCA for food expenses/etc. If I stay for the entire three months, (which I most certainly plan to), I get a scholarship for school tuition from Americorp.
In simple words, I am interning under the head ranger here at Tower Ranger station, Collette Daigle-Berg, and I do all sorts of things. One of the main things I do is "Bear Jams". They are traffic jams caused by bears. Not in the way one might think though. The bear could be ten feet off the road, not the middle of it. He could also be 300 yrds off the road and still cause a jam. If the bear is visible, the possibilities of a bear jam are up in the 99% range. I admit. Sometimes it is frustrating, because there is so much more to the park than just bears. The thermal features for instance. Or even on a smaller scale: the wildflowers and their properties. But I try to keep in mind that people come to the park for different reasons, and while there are some people who only come for the bears, there are still those who do come to learn as much as they can about everything.
Tower ranger station. This is where I live. I wake up and perhaps there might be a buffalo outside my window. We had two black bears mating in our volleyball court just last week. I'm not living in a tent or anything like that. It's actually very nice living quarters with a kitchen and bathroom and double bed. I don't have a double bed at home......