Friday, October 26, 2007

Women in Wilderness Retreat

After almost a year of blogging, I am still trying to get the hang of making it all flow smoothly. I think it is safe to say I have not achieved that goal with this post! The description of my wonderful few days at the GYC Women in Wilderness Retreat is at the end of the string of photos. I hope you will enjoy the visual stimulation and take the time to read about the event in the few paragraphs at the bottom. Note that you can link to some of the people and organizations I mention by clicking on the highlighted items.

Pronghorn near the Lamar River

The view from my cabin at the B-Bar Ranch

An Ancient White Park Bull

Young Suffolk Punch Draft Colt

Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride with Hannah examining the body of a weasel she found in the barn. I am sure he will be immortalized in a drawing!

Elk going up the hill across the Lamar River

Bull elk in YNP

Big Horn Sheep near Gardiner, Montana

Norris Geyser Basin

One of the problems with writing about an event such as the retreat I attended last weekend is that it is an almost overwhelming task because of the richness of experience. I am sure I could sit here and type for the rest of the day and still remember things I forgot to mention at the end of the sitting. Therefore, I am going to give a very brief overview of the weekend and the people involved and then let the photos speak to the rest. I hope you enjoy helping me re-live the wonder and joy of spending four days in one of the most beautiful places on earth!

The first ever Women in Wilderness Retreat was hosted by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition at the B-Bar Ranch in Tom Miner Basin, just north of Gardiner, Montana and the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. I have driven by the road that goes into the basin many times but this was my first time driving the 8 miles back to the ranch. It is a magical place, full of wildlife and breathtaking scenery where they raise Suffolk Punch Draft Horses and Ancient White Park Cattle. Liz Harrison of GYC was the lady charged with keeping us all occupied and she did an outstanding job throughout the weekend. There were three presenters/facilitators that helped Liz in her mission: Carol McEvoy of the Rim Country Land Institute; Hannah Hinchman, Artist and Naturalist; and Gloria Flora of Sustainable Obtainable Solutions (SOS)

Our first day was spent getting acquainted with the ranch and the other participants. There were ten "retreaters", many of whom had traveled great distances to be there, including some from Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, Idaho and more. I was reminded yet again of how incredibly lucky I am to live so close to this amazing natural resource. All the meals were provided by the B-Bar Ranch and the food was truly outstanding the entire time we were there.

Day two started with yoga in the early morning followed by a van ride into Yellowstone where we concentrated on the geology of the northern section of the Park. It was a cold, wet, snowy day and we ended up cutting our planned route a little short because of icy roads but the hike around the Norris Geyser area was a real treat nonetheless and the sightings of big horn sheep along the Gallitan River and elk sparring in Mammoth were just sprinkles on top of the cake. In the afternoon we traveled back to the ranch where I had a wonderful massage and then more interaction with the other participants including another fabulous dinner and a talk by Gloria about her history and the mission of SOS.

Day three began early as we loaded into the van by 6:30 with our sack breakfast for a day of wildlife watching in the Park. We didn't have to wait long as we were about two miles down the ranch road when a grizzly bear sow and her cub of the year came running out of the willows beside the road and crossed in front of us. We didn't see any wolves that day but we saw just about everything else and I love the photos I got of the coyotes hunting rodents in Lamar Valley. We did several great hikes (which I paid for later with my throbbing foot!) and then headed back to the ranch for some sketching time with Hannah and then a horse drawn wagon ride around the ranch. Dinner was followed by another amazing session with Carol and then back to our cabins for our last night of sleeping at the B-Bar.

Day four started with another early morning yoga session and then an hour hiking in the crisp winter air around the ranch. It was the first day of hunting season and we all donned bright orange vests so some overly anxious hunter on the nearby public forest land wouldn't mistake us for a herd of mule deer. We returned to the main lodge for our closing circle and left the B-Bar feeling like we could move the earth if we really wanted to!

I have left so many memories out of this accounting in the interest of time and space. It was truly a magical experience with an amazing group of strong, intelligent, caring women. I feel like I walked away having made some new friends for life and I am already looking forward anxiously to the opportunity to repeat the experience next year!

1 comment:

Cynthia St Charles said...

Oh my gosh! I didn't realize your conference was held at the B-Bar! That is my old stomping grounds! Literally! That ranch was once owned by the family of my sister's first husband (they still ranch in Tom Miner). She used to live in the big house back in the mid 70's.

For 10 years, I lived in that area. My ex-husband and I built a log house near the Yellowstone river - the first one you see after crossing Carbella Bridge. I designed that house. I am intimately acquainted with that entire region - have been all over the place in every direction. Such a beautiful place!

I grieved for a long time when I had to move away, and I've not been back since my sister moved out of Tom Miner 15 years ago.

It is really a special place, and obviously - it was a very special time for you. Thanks for sharing.

PS. When are you putting your journal quilt on your blog?