The Animals of Lamar Valley


We woke up because the tent was getting hot, and it sounded like people were outside. Since our campsite might not have been technically legal, we didn’t want to get caught by the rangers with our rainfly down. We started our day early.
People walked by a little awkwardly as we stashed all of our things, and decided who would take what.


All I knew was that we did not want the tent any more. At least not all of it. Carrying the tent up the mountain the day before had been painful, and I had begun to resent its presence. We would need just the rain fly to remain relatively comfortable. Particularly because the forecast didn’t call for any rain the rest of the week.
With a rainfly folded neatly beneath the top flap of my backpack, we had almost everything we needed. If we had only brought our spare cooking pot, we would have been set to leave right then. But the one thing Kirk could not share with us was a cooking pot. The kit that Kirk had brought was only good for his backcountry stove, and we were going to be cooking over an open fire, cowboy style. I didn’t want to ruin his pots.


Luckily for Kyle and I, our blunder the night before was also our saving grace. Instead of ruining one of Kirk’s pots, I would take advantage of our lack of progress, to get my spare pot from the car.
I love walking through Lamar, because it is a lot like walking through central park. The local residents deserve a respectful distance, and have been known to run people down. But the walk is easy, and the scenery is beautiful.
Lamar Valley has also been referred to by more qualified people than myself as being the American Serengeti. As I walked, bison pursued their endless goal of eating all the grass in the valley, and crickets the size of pool balls hopped awkwardly in an attempt to avoid my feet.


Above, the red tail hawks were beginning their full day of riding thermals. I stood with a group of British tourists, who were marveling at the white spots under their wings. They were bragging about the badger that they had seen running through the bushes, and which had fallen into a hole on seeing them.
It was starting to get hot when I found Kyle. He was sitting with his shirt on his head like a turban, and we were both sweating. “Its hot.” he told me.
“Yeah we should get going. There should be a bunch of spots to jump in the river along the way. It looks so refreshing.”
We shouldered our packs and began following one of the bison trails further into they valley. The bison have done their best to confuse tourists trying to get further into Lamar, by making a patchwork of little trails that look like the footpath throughout the valley. Fortunately for us, we knew where to go because we had a map.


As we crested a hill, we surprised a group of Antelope that had made their bed in the center of the field. We saw them bounding further into the valley when we crested the hill, as though they were running from the wolves. Kyle noticed the bugs first.
“Dude they’re everywhere!” He said. Around his head was a cloud of what looked like blood thirsty ants with wings.
We were now running like the antelope further up the valley. They had been preying on the antelope who had just left, so now turned their eyes on human blood as a worthy substitute. I told Kyle that there was a literal cloud of them above his head. He told me that my yellow backpack was pretty much black with these little guys. The way they were flying around my head, I had to agree.


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