GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the Park since 2002

We celebrate Philetus Norris today

We celebrate Philetus Norris today

park superintendent Norris

Superintendent Norris, as reproduced in Yellowstone Treasures

August 17, 2016, is the 195th birthday of Philetus W. Norris, who was the eccentric but effective second superintendent of Yellowstone National Park (1877-82). He was a prolific writer; his writings include poetry about the West, a road guide to the park, and excellent superintendent’s reports that are invaluable to historians. Several park features carry his name, including Mount Norris due east of Soda Butte, Norris Geyser Basin, and Norris Pass.

Here is the first half of his 1880 poem “Rustic Bridge and Crystal Falls.”

Will these feet that trip so lightly
O’er this structure rude but strong,
Or these eyes which beam so brightly,
E’er greet scenes more meet for song?

Skipping rill from snowy fountains
Dashing through embowered walls,
Fairy dell ’mid frowning mountains,
Grotto pool and Crystal Falls.

Charming dell, begirt with wonders,
Mighty falls on either hand,
Quiet glen amid their thunders,
Matchless, save in Wonder-Land.

* * * * *

The biographical information was excerpted and slightly modified from Yellowstone Treasures, updated fourth edition, page 205. You can read the whole poem on page 23 of Through Early Yellowstone.

Photo credit: Record Group 79, National Archives and Records Administration, Yellowstone National Park

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Announcing our photo contest

We are pleased to announce our 2016 Yellowstone National Park photo contest! Our Giant Geyser frontispiece since the third edition was obtained in a similar contest. For the fifth edition of the Yellowstone Treasures guidebook, to be published in 2017, we are looking for a new front cover photo and will consider additional photos for the back cover and the interior. Here are our ideas, but your photo may be considered if it is of a similar or nearby subject.

Possibilities for the cover, possibly with a rainbow

Beehive Geyser
Giant Geyser
Grand Geyser
Riverside Geyser
Unique shot of Old Faithful Geyser

Interior photos we would like

Geological

basalt lava flow near Calcite Springs
Canyon from Grand View
Clepsydra Geyser
Electric Peak
Emigrant Peak
Mount Moran (Grand Teton N. P.)
Norris Geyser Basin geyser or hot spring
Porcelain Basin overview
Rock Creek Valley or other Beartooth Range view
Twin Lakes

Living things

Harlequin Lake
Penstemon wildflower
Rosecrown or bitterroot flower

The deadline is coming very soon, August 19, 2016, so gather your recent, high-quality, high-resolution photos of Yellowstone (please, no more than five per entrant). Please read the further guidelines and rules here:
Yellowstone National Park Photo Contest. You are welcome to write to editor Beth Chapple at webmaster [at] yellowstonetreasures.com or author Janet Chapple at janet [at] yellowstonetreasures.com with questions about how to locate the pictures on our picture wish list.

We’re very much looking forward to seeing your photographs!

Here is a form you can use for entering. Put “Photo Contest Entry” in the subject line.
Photographer’s Name:
Residence:
E-mail address:
Twitter and/or Instagram handle:
Date of photo:
Photo subject:
Description:

—Editor Beth

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Success reported in saving Yellowstone’s cutthroat trout

An excellent article quoted from the Cody Enterprise on YellowstoneInsider.com tells about the remarkable turnaround in the fishing scene in our oldest national park. Since the mid 1990s, when large lake trout were introduced into Yellowstone Lake from an unknown source, the carnivorous fish have been devouring native cutthroats, a so-called keystone species. Combating them has been a struggle, since lake trout swim and spawn in the deepest water, while cutthroat trout swim near the surface and spawn in inlet streams.

lake trout cutthroat trout

Trout comparison (NPS Photo)

The National Park Service and the Yellowstone Park Foundation have cooperated in fighting lake trout since soon after they were discovered, but at first with limited success. In the last six years, however, things have been turning around. Gillnetting and electrofishing removed about 300,000 lake trout last year. And the latest technique is particularly effective. Quoting the Yellowstone Insider article: “over the past few years, crews have started catching and attaching telemetry gadgets to the fish; telemetry allows crews to trace lake trout to their spawning beds and remove both fish and fry from them.”

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Where Can I See Animals in Yellowstone Park?

Many visitors to Yellowstone go with the primary goal of seeing wild animals. And some go only to view the wolves of Lamar Valley with spotting scopes and binoculars.

Back before the first edition of Yellowstone Treasures was published, and thinking it might be helpful to such visitors using my guidebook, I worked with my mapmaker, Linton Brown, to place animal and bird icons in likely places on our fourteen maps that show the park’s roads. The idea for this came from my model, the Haynes Guides, which my family used when I was a child. Here’s a sample of the maps in Yellowstone Treasures.

Screen Shot Map 21sm

A critical but helpful Amazon.com reviewer, Benjamin Day, wrote in 2015: “ . . . your dinner hour is the dinner hour of the animals, and low light is the best time to see the extraordinary animals that live here.” He also suggested the guidebook could include “a driving tour along the Madison, or the Lamar Valley, or Hayden Valley, near sunset, when we experienced the most amazing Elk, Bison and Grizzly shows.”

The trouble is that Yellowstone is not a zoo and the charismatic megafauna (as some tongue-in-cheek naturalists have dubbed the big animals) may roam anywhere they choose. The vast majority of park territory is not near the roads, but I had seen animals without going into the backcountry during my many visits to the park. I asked Linton to put icons in those locations. Much later, I was amused when another reviewer commented how he had enjoyed using the guidebook, and said, “she even shows where the animals are”!

No guarantees, but using our maps may give you a better than average chance of fulfilling your dream of seeing bison and elk. With luck, you may even see bears, bighorn sheep—and my favorite, the beautiful pronghorn antelope.

Screen Shot_Pronghorn

In our fifth edition we cannot add driving tours for animal “shows,” as Mr. Day suggested. That would take pages and pages, and it’s already a big book. But we can direct you to use and enjoy our maps.

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Yellowstone Treasures Kindle deal

Amazing book to review before your visit to Yellowstone

Amazing book to review before your visit, but also to keep with you during it! Upon entering the park we were given a map, but this book has so many more detailed maps of each area that were SO helpful! I was responsible for planning a day and a half worth of activities for my group, and this book helped me to not disappoint! It explains EVERY single feature of the park, split up according to region. Seriously, check this book out and your friend will think you know it all. Can’t wait to go back to the park–according to the book, I missed out on A LOT.

—L, Amazon.com 5-star review, June 22, 2016

The price of the Yellowstone Treasures e-book in three different formats normally varies between $12.99 and the list price of $19.99. People all around the world can now easily buy it, as we discussed in an April post, “E-books for international readers.”.

Now, for just this calendar month, July 2016, Amazon.com is offering the Kindle version of the guidebook for $3.99! That’s a bargain for the Updated Fourth Edition, which boasts more facts, anecdotes, history, and travel tips than ever before. To get selected for this deal, a book must have high customer ratings on Amazon.com (3.2 stars or better), and with 69 reviews, the updated fourth edition currently has a rating of 4.7 stars. Something to consider giving to someone you know who has a Kindle or the free Kindle app on the iPad?

—Editor and Publisher, Beth

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Through British Eyes—Yellowstone, Summer 2016

In this special summer when record numbers are expected in all the nation’s parks due to the centennial of the National Park Service, gas prices are down somewhat, and many foreign tourists (especially those from China) are touring the U.S., a neighbor has sent me a perceptive account of her British friends’ June trip through Yellowstone. I think reading Annie’s comments about Yellowstone may be both entertaining and helpful to people visiting in the next two or three months, so I’m passing along some excerpts from the message she recently sent my neighbor. You’ll learn both the plusses and minuses of a 2016 summer visit!

Pictures here of Aurum Spring at Upper Geyser Basin and Naiad Spring at Mammoth Hot Springs are courtesy of Suzanne Cane, taken in 2013.

From Annie and Paul’s 2016 Trip Report

Our next National Park was Yellowstone, which you can enter by driving through The Grand Tetons and using the South Entrance. We have now visited so many parks that we wondered what Yellowstone could offer that would amaze us yet again.

[The morning after settling into their campsite] From past experience we know you have to go in the parks early so we headed in about 7 am, our aim being to get to the old Faithful Geyser, so named as it erupts more reliably than any other big geysers. At present it erupts roughly every 90 minutes. It expels anywhere between 4–8 thousand gallons of boiling water and reaches a height between 1–2 hundred feet. It is not the largest geyser in the park, but you are guaranteed to see it blow. We had around 40 minutes to wait so took a walk around Geyser Hill.
SC031_Aurum G_12in.copy Aurum Geyser’s pool on Geyser Hill “lays” uniform geyser eggs

It was a truly surreal experience; the Park has built boardwalks around the geysers, and walking around there is a strong smell of sulphur, which Paul hated. I felt it was rather healthy to inhale and clear the lungs. (Ed., Venus, Mars…) The pools vary in size and colour, some small with luminous turquoises and blues. The large ones can be almost obscured with steam, but the wind will momentarily clear it to show crystal clear water bubbling away. Then there are the mud pools which go gloop, gloop, gloop and really stink. We saw some small eruptions but nothing amazing. What was surprising was the number of flowers growing quite close to the geysers’ centres.

We headed back to Old Faithful, which was now due to erupt. The photographers had gathered but there is a large viewing area all around the geyser. There were several false alarms with little spouts of water and massive eruptions of steam, then suddenly she was off—huge column of water rising into the air followed by clouds of steam. It lasted for about 3 minutes and was truly impressive.

Leaving Old Faithful we drove slowly along the Yellowstone Lake, one of the world’s largest alpine lakes, its shores are volcanic beaches. To the east and southeast of the lakes are the wild and snowcapped Absaroka Range of mountains. Truly beautiful.

We wended our way back to camp and decided to treat ourselves to dinner out. We made enquiries at the office and they recommended Bar N Ranch for excellent steaks, quiet and good service. Just what we wanted. It was 10 minutes out of town and perfect. A large wooden lodge style building, we had a lovely table in the window looking out over fields to the pine forests in the distance and their tented camp site, which actually looked a bit like an Indian war army camp all in straight lines with US flags flying! However, the food was great, fresh salad, 9oz. fillet steak cooked medium rare, (not rare as in England which is raw in America) and nice vegetables, and a mellow glass of red wine. Perfect end to the day. [This restaurant is new to me—maybe I’ll get to sample it this summer!]

Next day we went into the park a bit later, which was a big mistake, crowds of people and difficulty parking at various view points. . . . [Driving north of Beryl Spring, between Madison and Norris,] we got stuck in a massive line of cars. We thought it was road works, slowly we crawled along until finally we got to an open clearing and found cars stopping all over the road to photograph bison, really!—hardly the most enchanting of animals and how many photos do you need? That put me in a bad mood as it seems so selfish.

[Unable to find parking at Norris Geyser Basin] we headed on around to Mammoth Hot Springs. Lots of car parks but very busy and we finally got into one and set off on the boardwalk. The hot springs here have created very strange rock formations like steps with boiling water running down them, large pools of iridescent green and blue, bubbling and steaming. . . . I walked higher and higher, and at the top you have an overlook of all the spectacular terraces.
P1050633_Naiad Spring Naiad Spring, about halfway up the stairs from the Mammoth Lower Terrace parking areas, became active in 2012.

Most of the geysers are in the Southern Loop. . . We headed in on day 3 at about 7 am and reached Biscuit and Black Sand Basin well before the crowds. It is really difficult to do justice to these geysers. One favourite was Excelsior Crater; it was completely covered in steam which also enveloped us, and as we reached the far side of the pool the wind cleared, the steam momentarily revealing the brilliant colours in the water, at the edges light turquoise getting darker and then deep blue in the centre, and really clear. Quite phenomenal. Grand Prismatic Spring was quite dramatic, as from a distance you can see the steam is coloured blue, mauve, red, pink and yellow. As you get nearer the steam swirls about you and it is a really eerie feeling. Unique and, yes, awesome!!

Yellowstone is a fantastic park, we gave it 5 days but really do need longer to explore it.

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Visiting Yellowstone in October

Someone on the website Quora just asked about visiting Yellowstone in October, so here’s what I came up with while surfing the National Park Service website for Yellowstone:

Facilities open in October are:
Lake Hotel and Cabins to Oct. 9
Mammoth Hotel and Cabins to Oct. 10
Old Faithful: Snow Lodge and Cabins to Oct. 16; Inn to Oct. 9; Lodge and Cabins to Oct. 5

All campgrounds close in September, except the one at Mammoth Hot Springs, which is open all year.
Almost all roads are open until November 7; Dunraven Pass and Beartooth Pass close on October 11.

Since the weather always turns cold and snowy more and more during October, visitors need to be prepared to dress warmly and could need snow tires in some areas. All thermal areas and most wildlife can be seen (bears are just beginning to think about hibernating), but visitor center hours are limited, some dining facilities are closed, and ranger programs have already ceased in September.

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Wolves and Grizzlies and Good Reading

wolf

Gray wolf, Yellowstone Treasures page 351, photo courtesy National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park

Wolves have been feared and hated by humans for centuries. “It’s like the abortion issue of wildlife,” according to a recent Oliver Milman article in The Guardian’s U.S. edition. In his thoughtful article, Milman traces gray wolves from their rebound in Great Lakes states in the 1960s and their reintroduction to Yellowstone in the mid 1990s. He quotes wolf restoration project leader Doug Smith: “Fifty years ago, everyone hated wolves. Now, half the population hates wolves. We are progressing . . .”

I confess to having missed Endangered Species Day, which was May 20th this year. But I see that the Endangered Species Coalition has an extensive reading list for young and adult readers, including wolf books for children. For adults, it includes a favorite of mine, The Song of the Dodo, by David Quammen, the renowned author who just wrote the text for National Geographic’s May issue on Yellowstone. Then there’s a book I would like to read, The Future of Life, by one of our wisest scientists, Edward O. Wilson.

* * * * *

grizzly bear and cub

Grizzly bear sow and yearling on boardwalk at Daisy Geyser, NPS Flickr photo

The fate of the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Area is a serious matter on the verge of being decided by the courts. People who live, work, hunt, or frequently visit the area are closely following the controversy over listing / delisting the great bears.

An excellent article appears in the May 16th issue of the magazine High Country News. Carefully researched and written by environmental journalist Gloria Dickie, her article puts the whole problem of managing grizzlies in perspective. Grizzlies can live about twenty-five years in the wild. There are now 717 in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by a recent estimate and 960 in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (in and around Glacier National Park).

Environmentalists would like to find a way to bridge these two populations for their genetic health. Meanwhile, others with strong opinions about whether or not the bears should be delisted include hunters, outfitters, photo safari guides, and Native American Indian tribal leaders.

Chris Servheen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife grizzly bear recovery coordinator, believes the recovery level of grizzly bears reached as of now more than fulfills the goals of the Endangered Species Act. The bears’ recovery is “the greatest success story of all,” he says.

The controversy continues, but for comic relief here is a bit of (definitely not politically correct) historic humor that appears in my new collection, Through Early Yellowstone. This took place in the first decade of the twentieth century.

How Buffalo Jones Disciplined a Bad Grizzly
by William T. Hornaday
in The Minds and Manners of Wild Animals, 1922

The most ridiculous and laughable performance ever put up with a wild grizzly bear as an actor was staged by Col. C. J. (“Buffalo”) Jones, when he was superintendent of the wild animals of the Yellowstone Park. He marked down for punishment a particularly troublesome grizzly that had often raided tourists’ camps at a certain spot, to steal food. Very skillfully he roped that grizzly around one of his hind legs, suspended him from the limb of a tree, and while the disgraced and outraged silver-tip swung to and fro, bawling, cursing, snapping, snorting, and wildly clawing at the air, Buffalo Jones whaled it with a beanpole until he was tired. With commendable forethought Mr. Jones had for that occasion provided a moving-picture camera, and this film always produces roars of laughter.

Now, here is where we guessed wrongly. We supposed that whenever and wherever a well-beaten grizzly was turned loose, the angry animal would attack the lynching party. But not so. When Mr. Jones’ chastened grizzly was turned loose, it thought not of reprisals. It wildly fled to the tall timber, plunged into it, and there turned over a new leaf.

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A testimonial for Through Early Yellowstone

Here’s a delightful message sent to us this week by Lois Atwood of Providence, Rhode Island:

Thank you for sending me the book [Through Early Yellowstone], which I truly love.

I wish this had been available when I first entered Yellowstone, as viewing the park’s wonders through the eyes of early travelers highlights their extraordinary nature and variety, and the difficulties early travelers faced. I enjoyed the many details of a developing tourist trade—tent hotels, trails and roads that suddenly stopped, rare interactions with wild animals, the mother who set out for a park summer with her lively children and left her money at home—the list goes on and on. I frequently turned anew to the thirty or so paintings, never before reproduced. The book is filled with treasures, insights, humor, pictures, and descriptions of our first and still most unusual and startling national park.

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From the Desk of Janet Chapple

Personal Essay for University of Nebraska Press’s #FindYourPark Series

Old Faithful Inn interior

Old Faithful Inn interior, showing the great fireplace and balconies

At the invitation of the publisher of the travelogue by Jules Leclercq that I translated with my colleague Suzanne Cane, Yellowstone, Land of Wonders, I’ve recently written about my personal connection with Yellowstone National Park for their website.

Reflecting a lifetime association with the park—or, at least, a strong association during some of my very early years and then again since the age of sixty—I’ve written about my early memories of being there and why Yellowstone means so much to me that I continue to research and write about it during years when I might be taking it easy.

I hope my blog readers might be inspired to reward themselves with repeated visits to this richly fascinating and incomparable national treasure.

Photo credit: The image of the Old Faithful Inn fireplace from Bat’s Alley is an NPS photo.

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