Kneeling, Standing

A yellow-bellied marmot stands near Yellowstone Lake, mostly obscured by the tall grasses of a meadow on the Storm Point Trail, taken in July 2004 in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Fifteen years ago on a trip to Yellowstone, I found a colony of yellow-bellied marmots in rock formations on the Storm Point Trail. This marmot was standing to get a better look at its surroundings so I kneeled down to show the meadow between us with Yellowstone Lake beyond. I was a little nervous editing this picture for fear of a relapse, I have only just trained my brain to stop looking for non-existent marmots and pikas in the rock formations here in the Phoenix area!

At the End of the Trail

Our 2000 Subaru Outback parked at the trailhead of the Storm Point Trail in Yellowstone

I became intrigued with the Subaru Outback while in graduate school so when we moved to Oregon and were ready to replace my wife’s car, it was our first choice. It was my wife’s daily driver for fourteen years and I took it on all my hiking trips, near and far. It was always a welcome sight when I arrived back at the end of the trail, in this case the Storm Point Trail in Yellowstone.

Late in its life it got hit a few times, once by someone who ran a red light and twice by people who inexplicably plowed into the back of it. I suppose one sign of how much we loved it is not just that we drove it for so long, and not just that we replaced it with another Subaru, but that we replaced my Honda with a Subaru too.

We bought this model when it first came out and fell in love with the color, which had literally just arrived at the dealer (they hadn’t even had time to take the protective wrapping off). Apparently a lot of other people loved the color too so we ended up seeing them everywhere, including a few nearby in our neighborhood. There are still enough on the road that I frequently get a nice reminder of our dependable little wagon that I took to so many of my favorite places.

What Are Your Intentions?

An American bison stands on the Storm Point Trail at sunset in Yellowstone National Park

Bison are the easiest of the big mammals to see in most of Yellowstone as they sometimes hang out in large groups near the road. They generally leave people alone but seem so docile that inevitably someone will get too close and end up getting hurt. It’s not so easy to underestimate them on the trails, however, where it’s hard to ignore their size and speed. And of course the horns. You are in their domain and there is no car to retreat to.

This was one of a group of bulls that was coming in my direction on the Storm Point Trail. While you are supposed to stay on the trails in Yellowstone, I decided to let the bulls have the right-of-way and stepped into the meadow. However, they soon veered off the trail themselves to go for a romp in the wallows so I was able to safely continue down the trail.