Tuesday some of the Texans on staff smoked a couple of briskets and then there was an employee poker tournament (Texas hold 'em of course). Boo-yah and thank you-what a great night.
Wednesday I participated in the one of the great pastimes of the Paradise Valley: floating the Yellowstone River. We rented a raft on a perfect day-86º and sunny with a slight breeze-and floated down the river for the afternoon, drifting between snow-capped mountains and under clear blue skies. The water was the perfect temperature to be refreshing, but not warm enough that you could stay in forever, as we alternated laying out and sipping beers and diving in the water to cool off. The perfect remedy after a long week of work.
Thursday I got up at sunrise to head into Yellowstone. Going into the park always means something fun is in store, which gets me excited. This week seven of us-five staff and two guests-were on our way to climb Electric Peak, a moderate summit located at the northern border of the park. It is a hike and climb combination, totaling 20 miles round trip with an elevation gain of over 3,600 feet to reach the 10,969 foot summit.
One great thing about climbing peaks is that nature is behind at higher altitudes. It was a flashback to see lupine, Indian paintbrushes, sticky geraniums, arnica, and all of the other flowers again. Around Mountain Sky all of the wildflowers are pretty much done for the year, so it was a real treat for our eight-or-so mile hike to the base of the peak. We were even lucky enough to see some sandhill cranes.
Then we got down to business and scaling Electric.
The reward was well worth the four-and-a-half hours of hiking, climbing, and doing battle with mosquitoes. You can see Gardiner at the very right side of the picture, nestled in the valley. On the left side of the picture you can see the precarious ridge we traversed to reach the summit.
All in all it was a very satisfying weekend, and today I was not even sore. Floating rivers and climbing peaks-life does not get much better than that!