Mountain News: Jackson's giant gourd a small feller in Utah 

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JACKSON, Wyo. — Jackson Hole averages altogether 60 contiguous frost-free days each year. It's not the first place you'd think of as being home to giant pumpkins.

But with a great deal of coddling, Greg Hahnel coaxed a 182 kg (401 lbs) pound gourd from a community garden this summer. He tells the Jackson Hole News&Guide that he ordered $50 worth of Dill's Atlantic Giant seeds from somebody in Oregon. Of the 10 seeds he received, only four germinated and two flourished. But the seeds were certified from a strong lineage of monsters. "My pumpkin's got papers," he said.

The pumpkin was planted mid-May, and along the way Hahnel swaddled the plant with blankets on nippy nights. But even after a hard frost hit Sept. 13, the pumpkin gained 20.4kg (45 lbs). He then loaded the gourd into his pickup truck and drove to Salt Lake City, where he entered it into a contest. But there, others are far larger the winner weighed 726kg (1,600-lbs).

Celebration of singer's life ends

ASPEN, Colo. — The singer John Denver died in the wreckage of small plane in Monterey Bay in October 1997. Every year since then, friends, family and admirers have gathered every October in Aspen to celebrate his life and music.

The producer of the memorial gathering is Mark Johnson, who remembers first hearing the song "Take Me Home, Country Roads" while driving from Florida to Chicago. At first, he told the Aspen Daily News, he thought the song stunk. "By the time I got to Chicago, I had heard it six times and I loved it."

But after 15 years, this year's tribute will be the last. "All things must pass," says Johnson.

bad month for young critters

BANFF, Alberta — It's been a bad month for both grizzly bears and wolves in Banff National Park and adjoining areas.

Two young grizzly bears were struck and killed on the train tracks in early October. Wildlife biologists say the yearlings, along with their mother, had returned to the Bow Valley after a summer of feeding on buffalo berries in the remote Cascade Valley.

The bears were not feeding on grain spilled by passing trains, as has been the case with so many of the 13 confirmed grizzly bear mortalities on the tracks since 2000. Rather, it appears they were just using the tracks as a travel corridor, officials from Parks Canada tell the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

As for wolves, just two of the six wolves born to the Bow Valley pack this year have survived. But biologists say this isn't particularly unusual. Wolves often have five to six pups each spring, but the chances of all pups surviving are very slim.

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