Sunday, June 6, 2010

High and Wild

Yellowstone National Park, April 14, 2010

Introduction: Barronette Peak is in the far NE corner of Yellowstone. According to my topo map the road where I stood is at an altitude of a little over 7000 feet, and Barronette’s Peak rises to over 10,000 feet. This face of the mountain is very steep, one of the wildest places I can think of. We go there to ‘spot’ for Mountain Goats (search for them with a telescope) and once we even saw a wolverine up there.

Midday: High above me Barronette Peak’s snow cornices shine brilliant white against a deep blue sky. Snow blows off the ridge line and up into the sky. It’s a wild, inaccessible spot. I’m trying to photograph a spiral of wind blown snow rising above the ridgeline when I spot two specks – two golden eagles soar along the edge of the updraft. They soar even higher, one to the left and one to the right. I can only track one. Up, up it flies and then tucks its wings and drops like a stone in front of the steep face of Barronette. Open wings carry it back up into the blue sky. Another tuck and swoop. This time the uplift carries the eagle around to the backside of the mountain’s highest point. The eagles are so tiny I would never have spotted them with my naked eye. I found them in my telephoto lens and then switched to binoculars, giving me a peek into their private lives from very far away.

I’ve actually drawn the eagle far larger than I saw it in real life … It would take up about one pixel if I drew it as I saw it from over half a mile away.

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