Yellowstone National Park
Miles Hiked: 10 (80.7 overall)
Nearing the completion of their Master’s theses, two young, wild women struck out on the adventure of a lifetime. Meridith and Rachel’s 2012 Besties National Park Roadtrip was a transformative journey around the Western US National Parks. 10 states. 9 National Parks and 1 National Monument. One summer of fun!
|Ecologist in action|
After a day of full on touristing, it was time to get serious. Our alarms went off at 4am, and we slithered out of our sleeping bags. We dressed and washed up in a bleary haze before piling in the car with blankets and binoculars. As per the recommendations of Jim and Dot (the adorable park ranger couple), we drove the 35 miles from Bay Bridge to Tower Falls and hung a left. Along the stretch of road between Tower-Roosevelt and Mammoth, we found a pull off parking spot and were in position just as dawn broke over the sagebrush and meadows. Wolf watching. The wolves of Yellowstone get my scientists imagination running. During the mid-90s the National Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced wolves (mostly from the Canadian population) to Yellowstone, and the ecological impacts we are seeing appear to be profound. For an excellent look at why top predators are important, check out this piece by Estes and colleagues. Beyond the science, I think the mythos of these top predators really plays on some of our most basic, primal thoughts. What I really want to say, is I’m a stereotypical, hippie wolf-lover. Seriously, wolves, wolves, wolves.