Invitation to Yellowstone….or, How Lucky Can I Get???

Braving taciturn mules, grizzlies and inclement weather, we headed off to Montana for a pack trip in the remotest regions of Yellowstone National Park……

This year I was honored to be invited by long-time client and friend Jed Steele (of highly acclaimed Steele Winery) on his annual 5-day packing trip into Yellowstone National Park at the end of August. As the day arrived to depart, I was ready to realize a dream: packing into some of the most remote regions of Yellowstone National Park on horseback with a mule train of supplies for our adventures.

Leaving Sonoma County wine country in the high 80s I arrived at Livingston, Montana in the low 40s…..complete with scattered showers and icy northern blasts. Weather in the high country is no joke, and even though it was August, winter-like weather was making an unwanted visit.

Despite the chill and in between rain showers, the sun made its welcome appearance and turned yellowing aspen leaves into light-filled expanses of gold. My trip to Yellowstone was everything I had hoped it would be: spectacular high-country scenery, grizzly bears viewed from a distance (thank goodness), elk, bison, and a big 18” cutthroat trout that I managed to catch—and then release–off the shores of Heart lake. My trusty horse “Brush” couldn’t have taken better care of me, and my REI sleeping bag and down jacket lived up to the name. An unexpected treat was getting a first-hand experience of mules—they are so cool! Similar to horses, but at the same time so very different.

Now returned to our beloved Wine Country, I am reminded of how scenic beauty can take numerous forms and have many different looks and feels. Here in Sebastopol it is now October, and the days have just begun to feel like fall. In comparison to Montana, fall here is a mellow affair and one full of plenty and harvest. Meanwhile, I am already looking forward to a repeat performance at Yellowstone next year…..what do you say, Jed?

 

–Mark Stevens

October 2019