Random patterns

Environment, Jackson Hole, Wildlife

Barker-Ewing-Our-Commitment
First bend after launching our boats!

I love the return of spring and its random patterns and awakenings. In spring, the days warm slightly – and then snow slightly – and then warm slightly, but despite the season’s see-sawing nature, we start to see the return of the flowers, insects, and animals that have been missing or were merely occupied with survival during the endless winter.

The last bit of snow left my yard just two days ago. But the worms were brave, and emerged earlier. I saw the first worms of spring two weeks back and just so you know, I had to rescue some from certain sidewalk death. Fortunately I had the assistance of a handful of 6th graders to help out. Funny how having an adult do something as “silly” as helping a worm makes it OK for kids to do it, too. Worms do have their uses, and their presence harkened the return of the first robins. …continue reading Random patterns

The Name in the Hyphen

Barker-Ewing, History, National Parks, Rafting

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Happy 88th Birthday!

Barker-Ewing has been around since 1967 and has a name in the hyphen. Our first hired guide was Verne Huser, who liked to say that he was the “hyphen” in the name. He and his family worked with us for a few years and then he moved on to year-round” jobs before returning for a couple of seasons after he retired. Verne is an author and wrote guidebooks describing the ever shifting Snake River and a wonderful book about the River portion of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery called “On the River with Lewis and Clark.” As a river man, Verne realized the importance of their river journey and points out that of the 10,000 miles the Corps traveled, 9,000 miles was by river! I never had a chance to work with Verne, as I was a child when he first arrived on the scene. He returned after I retired from floating for the first time, and was again gone when I came back for my second round. However, because he was often visiting and loomed so large in Barker-Ewing lore, I got to know him very well. Verne is 88 years old now and his daughter just had many of us put together memories of him for his birthday. …continue reading The Name in the Hyphen

Learning from a Nuthatch

Barker-Ewing, National Parks, Rafting, Wildlife

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The Red-Breasted Nuthatch is a frequent feeder visitor.

Another delightful holiday season is wrapping up, and family and friends are hunkered down in anticipation of the cold days of midwinter and I am learning from a Nuthatch. The winter solstice brought an end to short dark days and started our slow climb towards summer. Here in Bozeman, north of Yellowstone National Park, the sun is setting at around 4:30pm. Though the daylight hours are few – and I need a headlamp to ski after work – there’s still plenty to see and learn, especially if I’m lucky enough to be outside in the right place at the right time.

It is easy to spend hours outside during the summer, when the sun is out until 10pm and we’re working three daily trips on the Snake River. We watch the play of light on the majestic Teton Range. We enjoy temperatures that can range from 30 to 80 in a single day. We listen for birds singing from the banks while we drift down quiet side channels. And we float past plenty of animals: sometimes hidden, sometimes in full view. …continue reading Learning from a Nuthatch

The Last Day of Summer

Barker-Ewing, Environment, Jackson Hole, National Parks

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Equinox – 12 Hours of Daylight!

I just saw the last day of summer. I know what you’re thinking: it’s the Equinox – so didn’t we all just see it? That’s true, but if you work outdoors like I do, you don’t need a calendar to tell you when the seasons change. You just have to read the signs.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve observed the slow transition of the forest underbrush from abundant green to rustling, crunchy brown. I’ve seen the first splashes of yellow appear on a the scattered Aspens and Cottonwoods along the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. And I’m waiting for the snow line to appear on the high peaks, and slowly descend to the valley floor with each new storm.

I’ve noticed the disappearance of the neighborhood’s Uinta ground squirrels; their mid-August vanishing act always catches me by a surprise. The annual elk rut has commenced – and many human visitors to Grand Teton and Yellowstone find themselves participating in this bewildering dance. Hunters start replacing mountain bikers and hikers in the backcountry, and the pace of life in the town of Jackson slows down.

…continue reading The Last Day of Summer

Best Job in the World

Barker-Ewing, Hiking & Climbing, National Parks, Rafting, Wildlife

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American Avocets Taggart Lake

River Guiding: it’s the best job in the world. I have been a River Guide on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park for 25 summer seasons. I return each year for the same reason as all the other guides: I love it. Spending time outdoors, piloting a raft, and looking at the river, the mountains, and the wildlife just can’t be beat. But I’m not special. Here at the original Barker-Ewing Scenic Float Trips, our current group of guides boast a combined 146 years of experience and has racked up more than a quarter of a million river miles between Dead Man’s Bar and Moose – one 10-mile float trip at a time.

Many of us spend our time off exploring channels that we can’t float during the week, or venturing into the high country. Yesterday after work, I hiked the short three-miles up to Taggart Lake in Grand Teton National Park. It’s close enough to my home in Moose to feel like my back yard, and I love to soak my feet in the clear, icy water. As I stood on a large boulder near the shore, I saw a group of shorebirds that I had seen on the river just the day before – their distinctive upturned bills marked them as American Avocets. …continue reading Best Job in the World