Yellowstone: Lewis Lake

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Lewis Lake is in the south end of Yellowstone Park so you can actually see the Grand Tetons in the distance, or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself all these years.

I love Lewis Lake. It’s like working at a luxury resort and if they ever try to give it to another field crew I’ll go all Cuckoo’s Nest on them. Sadly, many of its wetland sites are permanently drying up. That’s the bittersweet part of surveying here. Still, I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

This is a site that I know better than the back of my hand and I rarely need to consult the GPS to locate even the most remote wetlands. There’s just something about this place that’s become a part of my mental geography over the years. We have a good history. In 2006, my field partner and I swam the river with our survey equipment attached to our heads because we thought we had to survey everything. Needless to say, the sites across the river were dropped in 2007 and our soggy adventure was totally unnecessary. Still, I get lots of street cred for that maneuver. Since then, it’s all been an uphill, positive experience. I’ll note that this year, the biting insects were the worst here than anywhere else. Even the fishermen in the dorm agreed. Luckily, my homemade insect repellent worked like a charm. My field partner refused to try my concoction so I saw the opportunity for a little science experiment–a little compare and contrast between all-natural oils and DEET. Everywhere we worked she was being absolutely devoured and I was barely touched (and usually I’m a dream buffet of tastiness) so I was hands-down the winner. The only drawback to mine was that I had to apply it a little more often than her DEET.

All this writing about my repellent reminded me that while I was out surveying this site, I received a text from Shenandoah at O.C. Local Mojo telling me that she had basically sold out of most of my products. They had just opened on June 11th and it was only mid July! I remember walking on air for the rest of the day. Plus, I was feeling eager and excited to get back home so I could fill her store back up again. Trust me when I say, I never feel excited to leave Yellowstone after the field season (I’m mostly heartbroken) so this news was a gift.

Lewis Lake was also the location where I righted a terrible wrong. I realized that my field partner did not know who Hall & Oates was. She only knew one song: I Can’t Go For That. In her defense, she grew up in very rural Wyoming where all they played was country music; she never had a chance. And therein lies the travesty of it all. Now, if you’ve made my acquaintance, you’ll know that to me, a life without Daryl & John is absolutely not worth living. No can do! Needless to say, I wrung my hands and shed some tears over this but I was also quick to remedy the situation. In the field that day I provided an exhaustive karaoke primer and then let her hear the real thing on our next trip in my car (and the next trip, and the next, and the one after that…you get the point). I was worried there for a second that she may have grown too accustomed to my expertly sung, stripped down versions of their songs and would be disappointed by the real thing but duh…these are my boyz we’re talking about…they don’t disappoint! She was blown away and floored (at the same time, which is totally confusing) by their musical prowess. She even began requesting them on trips and humming their jams during our surveys. I was so darn proud of her! My mission of preaching the Hall & Oates gospel was complete. I could go back to New York right then if I wanted to, knowing that I had done right by the world. I didn’t, of course, but I could have.

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This little hellion is a predacious diving beetle larvae. They have been nicknamed “water tigers” for very good reason. I’d rather wrestle a bear than one of these.
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A group of Silvery Blue butterflies. Here’s an interesting tidbit: if you ever see a group of butterflies congregating on mammal poo, they’re actually males. Yup, it’s true. The males need the extra nutrients that the poo provides. Ahh… so many awful sexist jokes could be made but I’ll refrain because I believe in being sexy, not sexist.
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One of our survey sites is along the river. I never find tadpoles but there are tons of minnows and trout fry. I’m really good at netting them. You have to be lightning fast and I am…sometimes…on a good day…almost never.
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I took this picture with the idea of texting it to my mother because she fancies herself to be god’s gift to kayaking. Those are kayakers in the far distance but by the time I was ready to take the shot they were too far away to discern. Nevertheless, it’s still a lovely photo. What I wouldn’t give to kayak or raft there. Instead, I’m standing on solid ground netting for tadpoles. It’s a little weird and unconventional but I can’t complain.

1 response to Yellowstone: Lewis Lake

  1. Jess says:

    I ALWAYS think of you when Hall & Oates start playing! Those butterflies are beautiful. And I didn’t even notice the kayakers in the photo!

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