A Last Look at West Yellowstone

The last day of NaBloPoMo calls for a last look at West Yellowstone, as the Yellowstone Ski Festival comes to a close.

West Yellowstone, Montana

Rather than returning to the Rendezvous Ski Trails (as I did in in this post), I ended my time in West Yellowstone with scenes from along the trail that leads into Yellowstone National Park.

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Walking toward the entrance gate of Yellowstone National Park with skis and poles in hand, a sun dog greeted my friend and me, its rainbow shimmer suspended above the trees. Looking back toward town, the clear sky afforded a classic view of the mountains looming in the distance.

View of West Yellowstone from the gates of Yellowstone National Park

We skiied to the Wyoming-Montana border, and then veered left.

Wyoming state border within Yellowstone National Park

The trees opened up to the Madison River valley, with snowy mountaintops rising beyond it.  The amazing  view was a Thanksgiving gift.

View from the nordic ski trail in Yellowstone National Park

We stood at the overlook for a period of time, taking in each frosted treetop, each branch covered in delicate ice crystals that were iridescent in the morning sunlight.

View from the nordic ski trail in Yellowstone National Park

We returned the way we came, with classic skis following the single track back to the gates of the Park.

Leaving Yellowstone National Park

“Mountains inspire awe in any human person who has a soul. They remind us of our frailty, our unimportance, of the briefness of our span on this earth. They touch the heavens, and sail serenely at an altitude beyond even the imaginings of a mere mortal.” ~ Elizabeth Aston

Ciao! ~ Kat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light

The ski trails in West Yellowstone and in the Park itself have seen wonderful sunlight all week long.  What glorious weather for the Yellowstone Ski Festival!

Sun dog along the Madison River, Yellowstone National Park

As we skiied back from the edge of the Madison River, which was the subject of my response to last week’s Photo Challenge, a sun dog danced on the left side of the brilliant late afternoon sun.  This sun-based weather phenomena with the starburst of sunlight leading us back to the trailhead seemed to be a fitting entry for “Let There Be Light.”

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”Let There Be Light” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected

i should not have been surprised by the sight overhead as we enjoyed yet another postcard view of the mountains, while skiing along the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park.

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But, my friends and I still gasped in delight as we recognized the majestic bird soaring overhead.

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And, we were doubly surprised by the unexpected sight of yet another bald eagle flying by while the first was still in view.

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With no other skiers in sight, we shared that magic moment of unexpected wonder.

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”Unexpected” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

What a View From Deja View!

Not sure the days could get any prettier here.  Good snow, warm temps, clear blue sky — life is good.

Yesterday, I took advantage of the midday hours, when the faster skiers and training groups head in for lunch and break before their afternoon ski session.  The seasoned skiers were coming back in from their morning sessions raving about the incredibly clear views.  I just had to see one of them for myself.  After a delightful ski with a couple of my favorite women, whose sons and daughters also are on the trip for the week of training and Yellowstone Ski Festival events, the tease of the partial mountain view convinced me to branch off and slowly tackle the Deja View trail.

Rendezvous Trails biathlon range

The temperatures have been warm, but the snow still clung to the trees, like a classic postcard scene.  The empty trail beckoned.

Start of Deja View trail, Rendezvous Trails

Blue and white complemented each other with their brilliant extremes.

Deja View trail, Rendezvous Trails

The silence was deafening — pausing on the trail, I could hear only the occasional drop of snow from a branch high above, no wind in the trees, no birds, just me and the trail.  It was wonderful.

Start of Deja View trail, Rendezvous Trails

Did I mention that I am not a hard-core skier?  I am content to shuffle through the woods, taking photos, pausing to take in the scenery and enjoy the solitude, or revel in the camaraderie of good friends on the trails together, while laughing and chatting enough that we cannot afford to get winded.

So, as I skied along Deja View, not that it wasn’t pretty, but figuring I already had skied at least half of the 7.6 km trail, I admit to saying out loud, “Where the hell is the view?”  Perhaps Mother Nature would answer?

Deja View trail, Rendezvous Trails

I almost took a cutoff back down to the trailhead, after climbing and descending a couple of hills that were relatively challenging for this novice.  But, the effort was more than worth the reward.

What a view!

View from near the end of Deja View trail

I enjoyed a few moments of solitude, taking a mental picture before pulling out the camera.  And then a couple of friendly college-aged women came along, and we traded favors, taking each others’ pictures to help preserve the moment.

View from near the end of Deja View trail.

Let me say it again.  Life is good.

Ciao! ~ Kat

The Quiet Before the Storm

The Yellowstone Ski Festival draws thousands of skiers to this small town just outside the gate to Yellowstone National Park.  As the week goes on, the population builds, but the weekend before the official start of the Festival is still quiet and peaceful on the trails.

Rendezvous Trails, West Yellowstone
This peaceful scene has an expiration date in the near future as thousands of skiers descend on West Yellowstone later this week.

I started the day by fulfilling my role as the embarrassing mom — “Son, did you put on sunscreen?”  Response:  “Mom, no one else did.”  . .  . as his friend next to him says, “I did.” . . . which resulted in begrudging sunscreen application on the exposed parts of the face.  Mission accomplished, so on to my NaBloPoMo post of the day before heading out on the trails.

Rendezvous Trails, West Yellowstone

After yesterday’s almost 24-hour travel marathon to arrive in West Yellowstone, the sunny, warm day was an undeniable invitation to check out the trails.  A short walk to snow, then skis are on, making their way to the Rendezvous Trails trailhead.  I am content on my waxless touring skis, peacefully gliding along the groomed trails with snow-tufted trees reflecting the late afternoon sun. (That sounds so much more appealing than huffing and puffing in the higher altitude than I am used to, along with a body that is not quite in the shape I had hoped for this week’s activities!)

Forest along the Rendezvous Trails

Another parent friend familiar with the trails generously shows me a few options to explore during the week, and I enjoy the first ski of the season, leaving the bare trails at home in Minnesota behind. I take periodic breaks to snap a photo of our team’s skiers as they ski by or as they stop to regroup.

Snow-covered trees off the Rendezvous Trails

Nordic (cross-country) skiing is a sport for all levels to enjoy, a way to embrace the inevitable cold and snow that is part of our lives in northern climates.

Towering pines on the Rendezvous Trails

Today, the morning frost is disappearing from the bushes and trees, as the sun warms the temperatures from their early morning below-zero chill.  Another good day to enjoy the trails, admire the snow-capped pines, and take in that clean mountain air.

Ciao! ~ Kat