A View From Clark Butte

  • Florence Krall Shepard


Clark Butte, Hoback Basin, Greater Yellowstone Bioregion, Middle Rockies, Wyoming, USA, North America, Earth. These descriptors fix my location on Earth, my terra munde, a particular place that grounds my being but is not mine alone. Rising up out of United States Forest Service land, it is public domain, joining in common all species that live in or pass through its environs.

The hike to its summit at 8000 feet elevation, about 1000 feet above the basin floor, is more than a cardio-vascular workout, although it surely is that. It is a review of the diverse vegetative communities from sagebrush steppe to spruce/fir forest: the red bloom of wild onion and delicate ivory sego lily cups of spring, the papery sheen of dry pods in autumn. Here I meet the “Others,” prey and predators maintaining a delicate balance: dragonflies and mosquitoes, eagles and ground squirrels, coyotes and antelope. The latter are always in sight from birth to rut when they start their migration to winter in the Green River Basin. On the summit as I catch my breath, I enjoy the view and spend a moment in contemplation.