Teton and Washakie Wilderness
Scale of Landscape
The first thing to ponder upon entering the Teton or Washakie wilderness areas is the scale of the landscape. It is part of a much greater wilderness that also includes Yellowstone National Park land south of Yellowstone Lake and the Dunoir Special Management Area in Shoshone National Forest east of Brooks Lake. In lay terms, it is 70 miles by 70 miles. That doesn't give us a full appreciation of the scale. Imagine a carpet that is 500 by 500 miles, pushed inward from either side until it reached 70 by 70, and you have this place.
Once I was in the upper Yellowstone below Younts Peak, camped alone just below the krummholtz when a man on horseback with one packhorse arrived. He was dressed in the finery of his kind, but, also with grace and refinment in abundance. We exchanged pleasentries and sat silently for a while. "Its a big place," he said at last, and with that, moved on.
In a dynamic landscape such as that found in the Yellowstone ecosystem, a mental map changes with the physical. Consider this: before 1988, we didn't think of place in Yellowstone in terms of fire complexes. Now we do. The "Thorofare" is now also the Mink Creek Fire Complex. It is a dualistic as well as an ecological precept. These things I believe as I traverse tall Pacific willow stands in Pilgrim Creek, wondering whether that noise I just heard was the wind, the wing beat of a sandhill crane, or the footfall of a grizzly bear shaken from a day bed.