Yellowstone Lake

This movement was inspired by a horseback ride that my riding partner, Amanda, and I took on a cold, rainy day in August 1999. It was drizzling when we began, but the rain quickly turned to snow as we reached higher elevation. We traveled a trail that crossed the northern boundary of the Park into the Gallatin National forest. Trails outside the Park aren't nearly so well maintained as those within its borders, and consequently the trail that we should have taken to reenter the Park was obscured by fallen trees as we passed by. Before we realized that we had missed our trail, however, we crossed over a high pass that broke away under our horses' feet. There was no turning back.

We rode on through the snow until eight o'clock that evening when we came upon the Buffalo patrol cabin. We were both relieved and dismayed: Relieved because we finally knew where we were, and dismayed because we knew how far we were from civilization. We immediately exploded with laughter when we saw the cabin because we had been there a few weeks before, and we had made the observation that if anyone ever needed to get in the cabin for shelter, it would just be too bad; the place is sealed up like Fort Knox, complete with bars and barbed wire. Needless to say, there was no staying there that night.

We traveled on through the night until we reached Slough Creek at about 2:30 AM. We were cold and wet and tired, and we found the ranger station empty. We both agreed that our ponies could go no further, so after unsaddling, we found a horse trailer in the parking lot and crawled in. It seemed fairly clean, but we were chilled to the bone, and there was little sleep to be had. When morning finally came, we realized that the trailer wasn't quite as clean as we had thought. So with our dung stained clothes, we went off in search of a ride back to our vehicle.

I chose the name of this movement in honor of Anne-Sophie Mutter and her celebrated violin, the Lord Dunraven. It was inspired, however, by a moment during that ride that I shall never forget. It is an image that is forever ingrained in my mind. At some point during the night I looked up toward the heavens. The sky was rent in two, one half dark and foreboding and the other filled with a million stars as only the sky in the wilderness can be. Far to the south through a haze of snow, cars were streaming over Dunraven pass, their headlights fused together forming a serpentine light that was slithering down Mount Washburn. A full moon was rising in the east over Slough Creek, and there on the moon was the silhouette of Amanda, with snowflakes floating all about her.

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Yellowstone for Violin and Orchestra

Written by Yellowstone outfitter Jett Hitt and recorded by the Slovak Radio Symphony.

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