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Pebble Creek Pillows

March 06, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Pebble Creek PillowsPebble Creek Canyon, Yellowstone National Park


Two and a half hours South and East of Bozeman, Montana, just inside the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park is a small campground area where Pebble Creek sneaks its way out of the rugged and pristine Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.  Compared to the bigger, more elaborate campgrounds in Yellowstone, Pebble Creek Campground is quaint and tucked away.  Despite one of its trailheads named Warm Creek, Pebble Creek's waters are crystal clear and ice cold, fed from year-round snowpack and ice fields.  Just before it enters the campground the creek winds itself through an absolutely spectacular canyon, lined with jagged cliffs and strewn with large round boulders formed over 600,000 years ago when the Yellowstone Caldera last blew its lid.  It's a canyon that many visitors in the Summer don't have the opportunity to see because the frigid water flows down the canyon at a rate not easily crossed.  For those of us lucky enough to visit Yellowstone in the Winter, it is a wonderful little snowshoe or cross country ski trail to explore. 

The campground is closed at its entrance with a small parking lot plowed out to keep cars off the main road.  The trail exits the parking lot wherever the first person decided to break out into the fresh snowpack and spiders off in a variety of directions, all leading back to the canyon.  As the trail and creek intersect, the deep snow creates dozens of small "snow bridges" back and forth across and up the winding sides of Pebble Creek.  Be careful if you attempt a crossing.  Some of those "bridges" have soft edges and very deceptive heights, dropping up to 10 feet between boulders and into the creek.  Should you make your way up the canyon and around the bend, keep a lookout on the cliff face to your right where there's a shallow cave you can climb up into and get away from the elements and have a quiet lunch or cup of hot chocolate.  Finally, at the end of the canyon trail, before it starts to climb up into the Douglas Fir forest and onto the plateau above, you will find pillows of snow covered boulders.  

Last year my wife and I snowshoed in and spent an amazing day up in the canyon, cameras in hand, exploring the cave and admiring the Yellowstone scenery very few get to see.  We only saw one other couple the entire day and had a bast playing in the snow.  Yellowstone National Park can be one of the most inhospitable locations in the lower 48 to photograph in the Winter, but it never fails to reveal its beautiful nature underneath all of that snow.  The Pebble Creek Pillows are a sight I won't soon forget.


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I have never considered myself a creative person.  I am a numbers guy - analytical, and somewhat of a linear thinker.  My grandfather was an accomplished amateur photographer, and a self taught (and licensed) engineer who could speak four languages.  My mom, also an accomplished amateur photographer, was a CPA and County Auditor in the local government.  Photography has always come naturally.  I have been told I have a good eye - I'll leave that up to you to decide.  I love photography, but there is another form of expression that I have also learned to love over my lifetime, and that is writing.  

I just completed Ansel Adams Autobiography and I was struck by his amazing ability to write - how his writing complemented his photography.  His writing was not a description of his images, nor were his images a description of his prose.  He wrote what was in his heart, influenced by the beauty of the natural world around him.

My hope is that this blog in some way imitates that form of expression, working in unison to illuminate the world that I see around me and love so much.  I hope you enjoy.