We arrive at Cottonwood Ranch on a chilly, overcast October morning. We are met by owner Freddie Botur, who takes us into his ranch office. Tall and lean, Freddie is every bit the proverbial American cowboy. He is dressed in muddied work boots, blue jeans, and a full-brimmed hat and bandana.
Deciding what to do with my life is a question that rolls through my mind every day. Have I fulfilled my life dream yet? Have I landed my dream job? Have I narrowed down what I want to do? These questions make many of us jump in our seats and make our palms sweat. Who would ever truly be able to answer these?
We're rolling into Hayden Valley after a satisfying morning of elk bugling in the misty sagebrush plains just outside of Moose. It was a thrilling experience, but that was eight hours ago. As we made our way across the central Yellowstone Plateau, we saw a lot of lodgepole pine trees, but not a single mammal. I can sense my Wildlife Expedition guests wondering when we’re going to get around to the wolves and/or bears part of our “Wolf and Bear Expedition.”
That it was ten o’clock on a Wednesday was irrelevant when we crested Guilbeau Pass. We were radiating holiday spirit on that day, because it was our 25th day walking through the Arctic, and because the tussocks that sometimes aggravated our ankles were looking quite festive covered in snow.
The past couple of weeks have brought a distinct shift in the season, as summer comes to a close and fall settles in. Those of us who live, learn, and work on the Jackson Campus have watched firsthand as the aspen trees lining the east side of the canyon change from green to gold.