Get to Know Us - Donna Buyze

Where the buffalo (and Donna!!) Roam

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Perhaps you have not personally spoken with Donna Buyze here at BerryDunn Wealth Management. However, her work is integral in the service we are able to provide to clients. She spends her days happily, some may even say eagerly reviewing client portfolios, providing investment analysis and research, as well as, trading in client accounts. While this may be her day job, we think she could have a second career in writing based on her account of an exciting day she spent hiking with her husband in Yellowstone National Park in September of 2015. Check out her story in her own words:

It was a warm fall afternoon in northern Wyoming. Vivid blue sky blanketed the landscape and puffy white cumulus clouds dotted the sky as far as the eye could see. Earlier in the day my husband, Steve, and I hiked along the northern ridge of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. The viewpoint of the ridge offered spectacular views of Tower Fall, a 132’ waterfall, the colorful rock walls of the canyon with its shades of yellows and reds, and unique rock formations created by the cooling of lava rock now formed into columns so perfectly geometric, you’d think they were man made.  

The trailhead for our afternoon hike was a short distance away. The Hellroaring Creek trail promised a variety of terrain, including rolling hills, sage brush meadows of the plateau, a forest of pine and firs, and a suspension bridge over the Yellowstone River. Our destination was the babbling Hellroaring Creek.

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With only 1500 feet of elevation change over the 5-6 miles distance, we assumed that crossing the river on a bridge suspended what feels like 1000 feet over the river would be the most excitement we’d encounter this afternoon. We were wrong.

We began our hike descending the grassy hill into the forest. The air cooled and the sound of rushing water grew louder as we approached the river. The gray metal bridge spanned the roaring river with its steep rock walls. Mountain goats, which are frequently spotted along the rocks were missing from there that afternoon. It was not without a bit of trepidation that we made our way across the bridge, the river roaring through the narrow passage below us. I breathed a sigh of relief as we reached the other side and we continued on our way through the forest to the Blacktail Plateau.

The plateau was littered with large boulders deposited there by the glaciers as they melted centuries ago. Acres and acres of gently rolling meadow stretched before us as dozens of small herds of bison grazed the hills in the distance. We continued a across the plateau toward the creek, a favorite watering hole of the bison. When we reached the creek the trail turned and followed along the creek to a rise where we stopped to take in the views. We watched as a large herd of bison on the opposite side of the creek plodded along in a single file across the plain from the creek. Like a clown pulling a handkerchief from his sleeve, there was seemingly no end to the procession of bison from the creek lumbering off into the distance.

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It was getting late in the day. As we turned to head back, my husband noticed a small herd of bison making their way our direction. We scrambled up a small hill to get a better view of our trail and watch the movement of the bison. From there, we noticed an alternative trail off to our right that would skirt the herd. Eager to keep our distance from a herd of the one of the largest land mammals in North America, we made our way to the path which looped around a small pond and eventually intersected with our original trail.

 

As we approached the edge of the plateau however, another small herd of 20-25 bison appeared to be moving slowly toward us. We slowed our pace and watched their movement. Within a few minutes it was clear the herd would certainly cross the trail just ahead of us, exactly where we were headed. We needed to move out of their way to allow them to pass. A large boulder located about 50 feet off the trail looked to offer about as much protection as we could hope for in that moment.

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We crouched behind the rock and watched as the alpha male crossed our trail. In a move that demonstrated their unpredictable nature, rather than continuing on a straight path away from us, he turned in our general direction and stopped. He remained still for several minutes while the rest of the herd that lagged behind caught up with him. We peered out from behind the rock. The lead male looked up toward us, perhaps assessing the situation. Then, as if he had hollered “Go!” he and the entire herd took off running.

The herd stampeded past just 50 feet beyond us. The sound of their hoofs was like thunder. We felt safe behind the rock, yet my heart was pounding with excitement. Just when we thought it was safe to come out from hiding, two young bulls stormed past, as if protecting the herd from the rear. It was interesting that, once beyond our rock, the herd slowed to their more leisurely pace, and then sauntered on. We slowly emerged from behind the rock and after catching our breath, we hiked on, too.  

We spent several more days in Yellowstone hiking, viewing the many geysers, hot springs, waterfalls and watching wildlife from a safe distance. We had many other memorable experiences, however none matched the excitement of watching the bison stampede from our front row seats.