Monday, October 15, 2012

Yellowstone National Park

I'll pick up the narrative of our Wild America adventure this past April at Yellowstone National Park. From the Cascades of Washington we birded, drove, cursed, cheered, drank beer and talked about women to the west side of the park. If you care to know more details of the few days leading up, check out Tim's blog in particular his post Sound of the Sage. If not, continue reading here.

The plan was simple, spend half a day doing obligatory visit of the hot springs and old faithful, then spend two days in the fabled Lamar Valley where wolf, bison and grizzly roam!

So we set off. Bison on road? Check! Old Faithful? Check! Hippies singing to the geyser? Check! Elk? Check! Mountain Goat? Check! Clark's Nutcracker? Check! As the day drew to a close we had made it to Mammoth junction. Earlier in the evening we somehow spotted a Grizzly exactly 5.12 kms away. Not really, but somehow Tim saw a spec literally across the whole park and we scoped it at 60X zoom to determine it was a Grizzly. However this would not suffice. We need a real look. That evening the plan was set for the Lamar Valley in the morning.

Wolf Watchers

Dawn came early and we packed up and headed out. It wasn't long before we had them. High on a ridge a mum Grizzly with her cub were rummaging in the earth. Incredible! We scoped them for a while, just the two of us and the Grizzlies, without any other humans in sight. This is the way to do it I said. Not In the Lamar with 100 people, most of them nincompoops from the city, who inevitably utter at some point something horribly stupid and wrong concerning nature and wildlife. Grizzlies? Check! On to the valley. As we get there we know something's up. People are lined up along the road scoping the valley with a collection of Leica, Zeiss and Swarovski scopes and bins worth more then I've earned in my whole life! Apparently birders aren't the only ones to buy ridiculously expensive optics, so do wolf watchers! A strange breed of human, the wolf watcher comes to Yellowstone and follows the wolf packs around, sometimes for months, giving them names and talking as if they were their pets. Nevertheless they had wolves. A pack had just made a kill and were still frolicking near the river. We spent the next 2 hours watching wolves and talking to the folks until at one point we were alone. Sitting in a nice grassy spot slightly above the valley we cracked open some Pako's IPA and talked of life, love, ambition, friendship and the beauty and inspiration of the wild creatures and places. As the day was coming to a close ,we got a close up view of a young wolf prowling the valley. A mighty grand adventure indeed!
Old Faithful blowing off some steam

Lamar Valley

A lone wolf

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