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  Sierra Magazine
  March/April 2005
Table of Contents
Where the Wild Things Are
Do You Know Nature?
Thirty-Hour Valley
Lessons in Granite
Prairie Islands
Let's Talk
Ways & Means
One Small Step
Interview: Wangari Maathai
Lay of the Land
Food for Thought
Hey Mr. Green
The Hidden Life
The Sierra Club Bulletin
Sierra Club Outings
Sierra Archives
About Sierra
Internships at Sierra
Advertising Information
Current Advertisers

Sierra Magazine
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Where the Wild Things Are
Sierra club outings leaders show you where to meet musk oxen, alligators, whales, puffins, and more.
by Dashka Slater

Maybe you were lucky enough to spot a bald eagle or a bobcat. Or maybe it was just a garter snake shimmying across the trail or a heron stalking a swamp for fish. It may have been a rustle in the underbrush, a splash in the water, a warning call, that stopped you in mid-stride, your skin prickling with curiosity. Perhaps you heard it from your tent at night: the low croon of the owl, the brazen foraging of the bear, the screech and cackle of arguing raccoons. Whatever it was, chances are that the moment you encountered one of the earth's wild creatures, everything else stopped. The human drama lost its grip on your attention and you lived in your senses, eager to know more.

We asked eight Sierra Club Outings leaders to tell us where they go to get to know the other species of our planet. They told us about places as remote as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska, and as accessible as Everglades National Park, just an hour from Miami. Some can be visited on foot; others require boats, bicycles, or even skis. But all are places where wild creatures gather and where you stand a good chance of meeting them. Bring a soft voice, a quiet tread, a keen eye, and a patient heart. And prepare to be amazed.

Ice Age survivors: Musk oxen traveled across the Bering land bridge from Asia 125,000 years ago.Beasts of Yore
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
On all the planet, it would be hard to find a more remote and wild place than the 19.6 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. There are no buildings here, no roads, and no trails — just a vast, unbroken expanse of mountains, coastal plain, and boreal forest.
read more Read more.

RoseateEncounters in the Swamp
Everglades National Park, Florida
"In the Everglades," environmental advocate Marjory Stoneman Douglas wrote, "one is most aware of the superb monotony of saw grass under the world of air. But below that and before it, enclosing and causing it, is the water."
read more Read more.

FamilyWhale Tales
Maui, Hawaii
There's much to like about humpback whales — they're big, smart, playful, and they sing. But even an ardent humpback-lover like Lynne Simpson has to admit that the marine mammals have a flaw.
read more Read more.

AtlanticBirder's Paradise
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia's Mount Desert Island was once the playground of wealthy industrialists like the Rockefellers, Carnegies, and Fords. Few of the mansions they called "cottages" survived, but the landscape has — and its granite mountains, cobble beaches, spruce forests, and bogs and marshes make a birder's paradise.
read more Read more.

WhatThe Bears' Lair
Olympic National Park, Washington
Ninety-five percent of Olympic National Park is wilderness — old-growth and temperate rainforests, subalpine lakes, salmon streams, glacier-capped peaks, and the largest stretch of wild coastline in the Lower 48.
read more Read more.

Winter Rendezvous
Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
For most of the year, the animals in Yellowstone are spread out over the park's 2.2 million acres, doing their best to avoid the nearly 3 million annual human visitors. But in the winter, when the tourist population thins out, the animals (at least the ones that aren't hibernating) cluster near Yellowstone's meadows and thermal springs.
read more Read more.

Tropical Menagerie
Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas
When the Spanish first came to Texas in the 1500s, the Lower Rio Grande Valley was a green oasis of dense, scrublike thorn forest and grassland. No more: Agriculture and cattle-grazing have transformed much of the area into a virtual desert, and the land is scarred with highways and oilfields.
read more Read more.

Island of the Northern Stars
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
During the particularly cold winter of 194849, Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world, froze over. A female wolf walked across the ice and took up residence on Isle Royale, a 45-mile-long and 9-mile-wide wilderness normally two hours by boat from the nearest land.
read more Read more.

Dashka Slater is a regular contributor to Sierra.

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