Sunday. The smoke was better this morning. The rising sun was a deep orange, instead of red, contrasting brilliantly against a sky that was still gray and the still darker gray of the calm lake waters. This morning The Lake was dressed in patches of white and gray lake fog gathered on the eastern and western shores of the Thumb.
It was a brisk morning, with frost lacing the leaves of the lupine, turning them into white stars, and glazing the grasses with glitter. Even the fresh mounds of the burrowing critters were frosted like a sugar-dusted cake.
Yesterday, for the first time since I arrived, the campground was not completely filled. The FULL sign wasn’t posted. The season is winding down. American families are heading back to school. Many of our customers are now European and Asian visitors. Even the big groups of bikers are gone, the sacred Sturgis pilgrimage over the year.
One of the things I learned this week is that some people leaving Yellowstone leave behind stuff, all kinds of stuff. Visitors supply themselves for a camping, biking, hiking, fishing experience; and once they’ve had it, they leave the stuff here (ostensibly for the next person?). Bicycles, tents, tarps, sleeping bags, coolers, folding chairs…It becomes something of a disposal problem. The bicycles get pressed into service for the young people living in the dorms, providing transportation that most don’t have while here. The other stuff?
We see something similar in the laundry and shower. Last night we emptied a dryer full of someone’s towels that had been unclaimed for two days. At least they washed and dried them for us! We have a large box of single sox, another box with various articles of clothing, towels, hair bands, mated sox, and a third box with shampoos, conditioners, face cleansers, feminine cleansers, shaving cream, and various airline approved containers. These boxes get emptied regularly and fill back up just as regularly. It’s not bad enough that we fill our houses and garages with stuff, we have to do it to our national parks?
Leave No Trace