Although I enjoy crawdads (or crayfish to us northeasterners), I do NOT enjoy Crawfish Creek. Remember the fire swamp in The Princess Bride? It’s just like that. It’s fun to watch in a movie but not fun to experience in real life. One minute you’re tromping through the forest and the next you’re being swallowed whole by thermal, mucky quicksand. For a few minutes I was sure that I sprained my ankle and I had no idea how I was going to be able to walk to the car through several miles of dense, uneven forest rife with ankle-breakers and non-stop stream crossings thrown in there for good measure. That’s my worst nightmare scenario. We took a break for a few minutes and luckily once the pain subsided I decided that it could bear weight. Sometimes I think that humans are built so inefficiently. I mean, ankles are just silly. Why? All they do is strain and sprain, twist and break.
So although the sites and the hike were hellish, one good thing came out of it. Just as my field partner and I were wondering if crayfish inhabit the cool, high altitude streams of Yellowstone, I looked down and there was my answer. It was at my feet, right there on dry land. Another critter must have plucked it out of the water and left it for some reason (the reason being to answer my question, of course). That’s the beautiful blue Mississippi Mud Bug you see in the picture above. I love it when the world cuts the crap for a second and answers a question in a very clear, concise and unexpected way. I wish that would happen more often.