Yellowstone Bison

As I mentioned in my first post, the wild bison (also known as buffalo) of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks were one of my inspirations to move to the mountains of eastern Idaho, next to the border of Wyoming. The very first time that I saw the Yellowstone bison, I knew that I wanted to live closer to them, and get involved in helping to protect the few thousand of them that remained. Seeing them made me try to imagine what it must have been like in the Great Plains just 200 years ago, when 30 to 60 million bison freely roamed there; a time before millions of people had pushed them off their historic lands, nearly driving them to extinction.

As I spent some time sitting on a hillside just before sunset near this gentle and magnificent herd in Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley, it was hard to imagine how or why such a thing could have happened.

Herd of Bison in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National ParkThe 3,000-4,000 bison that live in and around Yellowstone are America’s last free-ranging population that are not contained by fences. I love to be in their presence, watching them peacefully eat grass and listening to them snort to their calves, who love to run and jump and play. Watching the Grand Teton bison herd roam through the park with the Tetons and abandoned Mormon settlements behind them is another endless fascination of mine.

Bison in Grand Teton National Park

Bison in Grand Teton National Park

Bison have the amazing capacity to survive in Yellowstone’s extreme climate, where subzero temperatures during the long winters are common. The lower elevations of Yellowstone also average 150 inches of snow, and the higher elevations can get twice as much! This year was the first time that I had ever had the opportunity to visit Yellowstone National Park in winter. Seeing the bison in the snow is an experience that I will never forget, and look forward to doing again.

Yellowstone buffalo

Yellowstone bison in winter

Yellowstone National Park bison in winter

Yellowstone National Park Buffalo

Yellowstone Buffalo in Winter

Yellowstone Bison running in snow

I greatly admire the work that the Buffalo Field Campain is doing to stop the slaughter and harassment of Yellowstone’s wild bison, which unfortunately continues to this day. I also work for a wildlife sanctuary and retreat center called Earthfire Institute that is working to change how people see, and therefore treat, wildlife and nature.

 

Creative Soul

I have been thinking about starting a blog for awhile now, and finally decided to do it after attending the Creative Soul: A Meditation & Writing Retreat for Women at Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center this past weekend. Thank you to Sarah McLean for giving me that final push I needed towards getting inspired, and realizing that I could find the time to write.

Last April, my husband Max and I packed up and left our life in New Jersey. Seeking a simpler life more connected to wildlife and nature, and less connected to stuff, we moved to beautiful Teton Valley, Idahojust a few miles away from the western border of Grand Teton National Park, and two hours away from Yellowstone National Park. The first time that I visited Yellowstone, I discovered what had been missing in my life.  Vast wide open spaces, rolling valley vistas, snow-capped mountains and herds of wildlife that I had never seen before.  Seeing the last few thousand wild bison left in the United States, in particular, enchanted me.  The skies were an amazingly brilliant blue, so unlike the hazy white skies that I had grown accustomed to in New Jersey.  The crystal clear streams fascinated me.  So much so that I quit my job in New York City a month later, and began the process of changing my life.  This is the beginning of the story.

wildflowers in Grand Teton National Park