Driving to Yellowstone is always full of rich nostalgia due to numerous family trips when I was younger. On Thursday December 3, I (Luke DeVoe) drove up to the locked Yellowstone park gate at the west entrance, hopped out of my car and started fiddling with the lock. Trying to act as if I had done this a hundred times, I excitedly entered the code and opened the gate. I drove through feeling like a VIP with rare privileges. Here in front of me lay a wintry Yellowstone National Park free of snow-machines.
After miraculously avoiding multiple car accidents due to rubber-necking at wild life, I arrived at Jesse’s cabin to see Christmas lights and Jesse dancing in the driveway. Cornish Game Hens for dinner and then cross-country skied out his front door. We skied a meadow adjacent to the confluence of the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers. This combination creates the famous Madison River. The skies were clear, fog emanated from the river and the full moon illuminated our landscape. It was a beautiful scene to share with my brother, although not without its troubles, -20 degree weather.
The next morning Jesse and I woke to a heavily loaded workday due to Megan (Jesse’s co-worker) taking a break for the day. We did not see wolves. We did see many tracks, triangulated a few wolves on radio telemetry and heard the famous howl. I also shared in Jesse’s frustration with “Old Faithful Girl” (The elk he mentioned in his last post) firsthand. Her signals are still very confusing.
The day did not end without excitement. About a half hour before sunset Jesse and I ran into a herd of elk and obtained a group composition. This involves attempting to find every elk in the herd and determining number of calves, male and females are present. This is literally impossible but quite fun. Jesse DeVoe is very kind to the elk, always making sure to say please and thank you when the elk make themselves known. Each collar has markings for field identification. This collar had black tape on transmitter, yellow tape on antennae and two brass plates. We were able to find and identify each elk in this herd, some were identified later that night after looking at pictures I had taken like this one.
Jesse and I topped off the day with another nighttime ski along the Gibbon river and Terrace Spring. This time in 0 degree weather causing us to sweat and strip layers because we had dressed for the conditions of the night before. In Yellowstone it seems that 0 degrees is actually quite pleasant.
On Jesse and Megan’s refrigerator there is an advertisement for daily snow-machine rentals. The rates are outrageous. Jesse and Megan vowed to look at this advertisement when this dream job turns to an arduous daily grind. As for me I have been bragging to my friends about my all expenses paid, guided tour of the winter wonderland of Yellowstone. You too can experience this once in a lifetime opportunity. But do not be tempted to call this a vacation; you will be put to work. If it isn’t helping with radio telemetry, stalking the “dog-hair” new growth for collard elk, feeding Jesse and Megan, or picking through the remains of wolf dinner, you will make good on the status “volunteer.”
This trip definitely added to the sense of nostalgia connected to Yellowstone National Park. Thank you Jesse for the opportunity.
On Saturday December 5 I could be found wearing every winter clothing layer that I own, battling -20 degree weather, frost clinging to my two week old beard, waving a radio telemetry antennae at what Jesse tells me are wolves. On Monday December 7 you can find me at Portneuf Medical Center on the Surgical Floor showered, clean shaven and wearing scrubs. It will be my first day working as an RN.