In late August, I drive south from BC across the Columbia River basalts, up and over the Continental Divide and into the high wilderness of Yellowstone National Park for the annual gathering of the field journalers. A late summer interlude in the expansiveness of Yellowstone National Park amidst a group of women who share my passion for documenting the natural world is a luxury I don’t often experience.
For three days, I alternate between the open views of the Hayden Valley (complete with sightings of the Canyon Wolf pack and the grizzly mom with her two cubs) and the architectural complexity of the Yellowstone River’s Grand Canyon.
This time of year in Yellowstone is dominated by the extravagances of large mammals in rut. The slow excesses of bison never fail to startle me out of complacency. Here, the bison are living and large, not the relict remnants of an extinct ecosystem. I can’t imagine Yellowstone without them. Peg says, “They finish the landscape.”
I wonder what has been lost from landscapes where their hooves no longer tread.