Wilkes County resident Noah Triplett had the adventure of a lifetime this summer, completing a four-month internship at Yellowstone National Park and nearby areas of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
The internship enabled the 2017 graduate of West Wilkes High School to complete his degree in recreation management from Appalachian State University in Boone.
Triplett left for his big adventure in Big Sky Country and vicinity in the middle of May. He went from sunny and temperatures in the mid-80s in North Carolina to snowing and mid-30s in Wyoming.
He worked (and played) at the famous Old Faithful geyser, swam in chilly, turquoise-tinted lakes at the foot of the Grand Teton mountain range of the Rockies, visited a plethora of hot springs, and led a group hike to Fairy Falls in Yellowstone.
Since returning home in September, Triplett has accepted a job working in the parks and recreation department of Alleghany County.
It wasn’t the first coast-to-coast road trip for Triplett, who lived in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California one previous winter.
This interview with Triplett—the 22-year-old son of Daniel and Christy Triplett of Ferguson—was conducted last week and has been edited for length.
Q: How did the opportunity in Yellowstone arise?
A: When I was wrapping up my recreation management degree from App I was required to have an internship that pertained to my degree. I was looking all over the U.S. because I figured, “Why not go somewhere cool for the summer?”
I wasn’t having a lot of luck finding something I wanted to do until one day my teacher sent me a link to an internship in Yellowstone.
Funny enough, at the same time I started talking to a company in Alaska. In Alaska I would have been an ATV guide and in Yellowstone I would be an employee recreation coordinator. I ended up choosing to do the Yellowstone job because it made a bit more sense for me right now.
Q: What were a few of your most memorable experiences or moments in Yellowstone?
A: The first night I was there, my supervisor jabbed her eye out on a night hike. I and my coworker had to drive her three hours to get emergency eye surgery.
Glacier National Park (in Montana’s Rocky Mountains) was epic. If you have to choose one (Glacier or Yellowstone) to see, Glacier is the best. Sorry, Yellowstone!
The Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho (and Utah, covering over 2 million acres) was also wild with a lot of nice hot springs.
The backpacking to Mr. Bubbles Hot Springs (in Yellowstone) was epic as well—we hiked like 30 miles in 30 hours with full gear.
It was a great summer with some cool people!
Q: How has your Yellowstone experience molded your imminent goals and aspirations?
A: The biggest way the trip shaped my future was the completion of my degree in recreation management from App State.
I also met a lot of cool people from all over the country, from Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and all over the East Coast. There were some Midwesterners as well; I was the only one from North Carolina.
The internship also helped prepare me for my newest job working in a county parks and recreation department (in Alleghany, where he is looking to move shortly).
Q: Did this trip change anything about your perspective of landscape and our relation to nature?
A: When I got back I realized how grand the landscapes are out west—everything is big and plentiful. The lakes are everywhere and the mountains are large and remote. Everything on the east is relatively populated but out west I could go into the mountains of Idaho and never been seen again. Here, it’s a lot harder because there are so many more people in and around.
I’ve driven about every major intestate across the country now and it is crazy how long it can take to get places and how you can see the same landscapes for an entire day.