The trip was planned around planting White Pine seedlings, and we did that, along with others, at 9600 feet. The tiny plants will grow enough in twenty years to provide piñon nuts for the grizzly bears. The planting allowed us to meet locals, volunteers, and those who work to keep the Greater Yellowstone area the magnificent space that it is. When I pay my taxes, this is what I will envision, Yellowstone and the Tetons and what surrounds.
We saw a mother Grizzly with her cubs, and a Black bear with hers, and an adolescent bear enjoying the wildflowers which were prolific. Bison became common.
Again, I struggle for words - geysers - mountains - lakes - waterfalls - snow - clouds - cold and warmth.
On the way back, we camped two nights at Stanley Lake in the Sawtooth Mountains. The spaces are reserved in January but the caretaker gave us her own special place. Enchantment.
Maybe it is not right to put words to the experience, but if you are interested, there is a book called Yellowstone, Like No Other Place On Earth. It contains excerpts from The Discovery of Yellowstone: The Washburn Expedition from 1870. Photographs are interspersed with words. I also bought a book on the history of the National Park Service. We owe a debt to those with the foresight to preserve.
We ate lunch at the Roosevelt Lodge, grateful. Our hearts swelled and swelled, and even now, I sit here, grateful for home, and deeply opened, probed, and touched.
It is the Fourth of July, a day to give thanks for the land and parks. As we drove, Chris kept saying, we are in Happiness Park. Anyone who has been to Yellowstone and the Tetons would leap to agree.
I end with these words of Nathaniel Pitt Langford, from a journal he kept as he and others explored in 1870 and realized the area must be a national park.
"Jake Smith to-day asked me if I expected that the readers of my diary would believe what I had written. He said that he had kept no diary for the reason that our discoveries had been of such a novel character, that if he were to write an account of them he would not be believed by those who read his record, and he would be set down as a liar. He said that he did not mind being called a liar by those who had known him well for many years, but he would not allow strangers that privilege. This ambiguous remark indicates that Jake has more wit and philosophy than I have given him the credit of possessing."
It is a day to savor and preserve. We live on land that deserves honoring even as we recognize there are those who seek to divide. May this day kindle fireworks deep inside as we, the people, ignite to unify.