03 March 2011

Sangha weekend at Chico Hot Springs, Montana

A group of faculty and grad students have been hosting a film series about the Beat Generation and American Zen at my little college. As Gary Snyder and Alan Watts point out, a good life is about Zen (meditation), Dharma (right living), and Sangha (community).

This past weekend, we practiced Sangha at a rental house at Chico Hot Springs, near Yellowstone National Park and a few hours from our home in Butte, Montana. We shared meals, beverages, hours soaking together at the pool, and of course other activities the area has to offer, such as wildlife watching in YNP and cross country skiing in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness:

We lucked out with a beautiful clear day for a ski:

Remember that "wax on-wax off" mantra from the film Karate Kid? It's a bit like the Zen of cross country skiing. Here are DNA (Don & Andrea) Stierle putting a little wax on:

Wind and sun, sculpting deep snow into the landscape of winter:

No destination. It's all about the journey. We skied a few miles to the top of a valley, ate a snack, and enjoyed the view before Schussing down:

Late afternoon, thin clouds, and again we pass the wolf tree (killed by a recent forest fire) on our way to the parking lot:

The next day, destination Charismatic Megafauna (i.e. Yellowstone National Park), via Roosevelt Arch at the Gardiner entrance:

We pass a herd of Elk People at the closed-for-winter Mammoth Campground:

Buffalo People on a single-file march across the Blacktail Plateau:

A mated pair of Raven People, silhouetted against an azure sky, hoping for a pack of wolves to kill something:

Rams of the Bighorn Sheep People, silhouetted on the ridge behind Ravens, hoping for no pack of wolves:

Ewes of the Bighorn Sheep People, digging feeder pans and finding a little dried grass for the kids waxing in their bellies:

And a pack of pesky trickster Coyote People (two at right in photo) worrying Bull Elk Person so proud of his giant rack (in willows at left in the photo; the larger the antlers, the later the bulls seem to shed them):

Day in, day out, the wind and sun sculpt the winter sand of the Yellowstone Zen garden. Spring might be on the way, but it's still a long way from Yellowstone:

We close the Sangha weekend with a group photo (from left: Andrea Stierle, Don Stierle, ChookahTheDog, Jeff Schachzenski, WuTheDog, Celia Schahczenski, SheikahTheDog, Frank Ackerman, Hwe Tu, John Brower, Karen Brower, MollyTheDog, Jan Munday, and Pat "EcoRover" Munday:


Richard Gibson said...


My word verification is "golites" - a nice way to approach our earth impact!

Pete said...

Pat, rough living! The wolf tree is beatiful - even in repose.

sandy said...

I am surprised at all the wildlife. That must not be the main part of the park. Like I said last week, you do some really fun things!

troutbirder said...

I'll be blunt Pat. I'm just plain envious of where you go and what you do on your "weekends." :)

secret agent woman said...

I love seeing wildlife when I'm out.

Janie said...

This looks like a fun group outing with plenty of time to enjoy the good company, the incredible scenery, and the wildlife viewing. Great photos of all the different kinds of people.