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

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bear Creek and Knox Lake

As I've mentioned before, John M. takes Tango for hikes outside of the park because dogs are not allowed in the backcountry in the park. We went to the Bear creek trailhead in the Gallatin National forest again, but this time, because of the fact that the waters were lower, I was determined to do the stream crossings in order to get to Knox lake.
Some new flowers that were in bloom (I have pictures that will be up in the next album):
Scarlet paintbrush- High nectar producing plant, attracts hummingbirds
Colorado Columbine- Larger than the yellow columbine, the book says it is somewhat poisonous but I heard from one of the rangers here that they go well in salads.
Alpine paintbrush- same as Scarlet Paintbrush but instead a magenta colour.
Glacier Lily- Lilies that bloom in the springtime or on the snowline, very tasty
I saw that blue/violet flower again, and I can still not find the name of it.
The hike to the first Bear Creek crossing was the same as before except for the fact that it was sunny. The light streaming through the trees was a nice added touch over last time of over cast. Although I did mention that when it was overcast the first time we went, it was still a wonderful hike and added a nice touch to the moss-covered lodgepole pines.
We reached the first crossing a mile in, and may I add, the creek looked significantly lower with a lot less water. But it was still really cold. John took a rock from the stream and looked at it. We saw two types of fly nymphs and another little critter that, at the moment, I can't remember what it is. I will ask John again and post the name later. John found a clear-like rock that had little dents in it that looked like they were made from bubble when it had cooled. Crossing the creek was not hard. What was hard, though, was the pain of the cold water that I had to deal with as I came out on the other side.
The next part of the trail was pretty nice. There was the occasional (very) small stream crossing and a few bridges the forest service had built over particularly muddy areas, but it was an uphill hike that wasn't too steep. About a half mile before the second stream crossing, we came upon snow. I admit, after seeing John eat some (after digging to find some clean stuff) I too took a hand full of snow and started munching on it. It tasted great! It tasted like snow....
Continuing on with our fine dining excursion, we came across a cluster of Glacial Lilies. As I mentioned earlier, they are edible. John said he had had some before so he picked one, wiped the dirt off the root, and started chomping on it, root first until he ate everything, including the leaves and the flower. Naturally, my curiosity got the better of me. I started chomping on one myself. I'll tell you right now, they are absolutely delicious! They kind of have a hint of apple, but pretty much the whole flower is a sweet green. And for those who want to see me eating a flower...yes I have pictures, and they will be posted.
We reached the second crossing of bear creek. I came to it at a run because I was trying to run away from the mosquitoes and the horse flies. Poor John got bitten on the back of the knee by one of the horse flies. He often had mosquitoes on his back as well. I did my best trying to slap the mosquitoes off his back when they did land, but this one time that I was trying to smack some of the mosquitoes on his back. Since we had just past some snow that I had picked up and eaten, he thought I was putting snow down his shirt. And thus the mosquitoes escaped.
But I digress, we reached the second creek, which was still cold, and I had to wait about 30 seconds while the cold/pain resided. John just stood there and chuckled at my misery. Passing another group of Glacial Lilies and some small ponds, we finally reached Knox lake. The lake must have had some glacial sediments, according to John, that made it a deep turquoise. There was a small little pool that was connected to the creek supplying the lake and the lake itself that was a beautiful light-sapphire blue, and ice cold. The lake was very large and on the edge of a meadow with snow scattered mountains in the background. We stayed at the sapphire pool for about 45 minutes occasionally stepping in or washing the rocks out of our Keens. John's tolerance of the cold was much higher than mine, he went into his knees and started wading out to the sapphire section for a minute before he started feeling really cold. I tried to go ankle deep into a small bed of water clovers for a few seconds but could barely handle it so I jumped up on a rock and stayed there for 5 minutes until I was brave enough to go back to shore.
But unfortunately all good things have to end, so we headed back towards the trail head. I think over the day we hiked around 7-8 miles total. Right now I think it is my favorite trail around here, the lake is definitely worth it. I recommend anyone who is out this way to go and check it out.

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