The Greater Yellowstone Region
Smack dab in the center of North America and atop the spine of the continental divide there is a spot where magma from the center of the earth relentlessly pushes towards the surface. Known as a supervolcano, its last rupture was responsible for one of earth’s great mass extinctions and still to this day it smolders and shakes. This great tumult gave us the Greater Yellowstone Region, one of this planets most awesome landscapes and vibrant of ecosystems. The center of gravity in the Northern Rockies, from its deep and consistent snowpack, rivers pour off this plateau like spokes of a wheel. The Missouri, Snake, Green, and Yellowstone Rivers all begin as small trickles here amongst herds of buffalo and elk. Grizzly bears, moose, and wolves roam in an age old dance of survival. Circumnavigating the plateau brings you from beacon to beacon. Mountains and ranges so distinctive they have become the things of lore along with the legendary trout that swim beneath them. To the south, the Tetons roar their way skyward above the Snake River where crayon colored Cutthroat trout pounce on anything floating. The Mighty Sphinx is lord of the Madison Range and the river known as the fifty mile riffle needs no introduction. Emigrant Peak and Absorkees to the north gaze down on the Yellowstone River flowing freely towards the great plains. Three species of native trout have carved their niches on separate sides and all are in peril. John Colter, Jim Bridger, and numerous trappers would return from exploring this place, describing its thermal features, wildlife, and landscapes. Nobody ever believed them, dismissing their stories as mere mountain man myth. The Place is real and still to this day it is the wildest place left in the lower 48. I count myself as lucky to have chosen this region to be my home since I was 18 years old.
Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat
Teton Star Trails
Tetons and their Native Cutties (artwork by AD Maddux)
The Yellowstone River
My struggle to survive as an artist has made me feel like a mere visitor to my home region. A decade ago I set up my pictures at the first of many outdoor art shows I would end up doing. Since that day all my time and effort during summers has been spent printing, framing, and selling my pictures. With limited resources I would try to make hay while the sun shined. This allowed me only a few precious days a month to be in the field. The romanticized vision of an outdoor photographer meeting the reality of a starving artist. Some way, somehow this is my summer to spend every day plying the clear water tributaries of our national treasure in search of the most epic of trout.
“Clients” of mine, Big Spenders….