Our Steps Matter

After clocking out from the early shift at the gift shop, I left the Inn for a long, leisurely stroll through the Upper Geyser Basin. Beginning at Old Faithful, I walked past lesser-known features and family favorites as I made my way to my destination: Morning Glory Pool. I didn’t need to invest any thought about how to get there. The boardwalk laid the course and I followed. Signs along the way were clear: STAY ON THE TRAIL. Geyser basins are dangerous places. In some areas, the thinnest of crusts separate our frail human frames from the seething intensity below. {Continue Reading}

Walking in Tension

Crossing the empty parking lot, I zipped my fleece jacket to my chin and drew my fingers into my sleeves. It was August and already the mountain morning air held heavy hints of the coming autumn–known in Yellowstone as “early winter.” Side by side, my dad and I climbed the sloping path to Tower Fall. During my growing up years, Tower had always been a regular stop when my family visited Yellowstone. That first year, its 132-foot plunge impressed me but it was the large boulder perched at the brink that held my attention. I was sure it, like us, {Continue Reading}

Summer into Fall Challenge

I was finishing up the dinner dishes when my daughter, sixteen, slipped into the house and said, “You might want to stop and come outside. The sky is beautiful. I don’t think you want to miss it.” I’ve learned to listen to that girl. She pays attention. She’s attuned to beauty. And she loves to share it. She’s been at this sky-sharing practice for nearly half her life. The first time she did this, she was nine and there was a little more drama involved. She didn’t just slip into the house. Her arrival was accompanied by the crashing of {Continue Reading}

All We Need is a Little Light

My husband and I have been hiking for years. Years. Still, we don’t always get it right out on the trail. We knew it we would be cutting it close. But, we hopped out at the picnic area, grabbed a late lunch, and prepared to hit the trail to Harney Peak, the highest point in the Black Hills. My husband filled our hydration packs while I reached into our well-stocked supply of both nutritious and just-for-fun trail food. And then, at 3:00 in the afternoon, after an evening and part of a long day in the vehicle, we set out {Continue Reading}

Embrace the Delays and Enjoy the Scenery

Eighteen hours into a twenty-hour road trip from our door to Yellowstone’s South Entrance, my high spirits tumbled at the sight of a sign. A happy-looking sign, it cast a shadow on my plan to get off the road and onto the trail as quickly as possible. It read: Expect delays and great scenery. It was a road construction sign in disguise. And I understood why. In Iowa, where I live, open roads and flat terrain allow travelers in construction zones to slow more often than stop. When a full stop is required, it’s usually short, and governed by a {Continue Reading}

Thriving in an Unfamiliar Life

My great-grandma was a woman of summer. She kept a garden. She grew the flowers and vegetables that graced her table. She picked the berries that topped our ice cream. Every once in a while, I helped her in the garden or the berry patch and it always shocked me when she showed up wearing pants. The garden was the only place I ever saw her dressed that way and even there she wore a dress over them, with a long-sleeved shirt and a wide-brimmed hat. She was dressed to work. Right here are four important lessons Great-grandma taught with {Continue Reading}

What We Already Know About Navigating by Faith

Leaving the comforting bustle of the crowd, I stepped off the boardwalk onto the geyserite-strewn path. This was my first solo hike. I was leaving from the Old Faithful area, where I lived and worked, to make a six-mile round trip journey to a backcountry waterfall. The first section of the trail skirted the edge of the Upper Geyser Basin before crossing a highway, passing through another geyser basin, and entering deep forest. I breathed deep, inhaling the strong scents of sulfur and pine mingling in the crisp morning air. Just beyond the boardwalk, I stopped at the trailhead sign, {Continue Reading}

One Truth for Navigating Unfamiliar Terrain by Faith

From the trailhead, the narrow, uneven path took us up a short, steep incline between towering pines. The road below and the river beyond were visible between their trunks. Lodgepoles, their growing habits produced tall, straight poles topped by comparatively tiny Christmas trees and created a sheltering canopy over the trail. At the top of the slope the path turned away from the traffic and entered an entirely different forest, this one dense and silent. Here the trees were young and full to the ground—all born from Yellowstone’s Fires of 1988. We walked—my husband and I—side-by-side on an earthen path {Continue Reading}

Friday Field Notes | A Little Geography

One strange thing about the internet world is that I don’t actually know where many of you live. Oddly, though, because of this unfamiliar terrain we’re collectively navigating, I can probably pretty accurately guess that most of us are at home much more than usual. How’re you doing with that? Today I am meh, but so is the weather. Every day is different. I live in the midwest, where it’s generally flat. Part of our family lives a few hundred miles to the south of us and part lives a few hundred to the north. The ones in the south have consistently warmer weather and {Continue Reading}