Monday, June 8, 2009

Yellowstone Trip--Day 3 (May 19th)

The third day had a slightly later start than the previous day but it was still an early 7:00 AM. We woke up, packed the car, emptied the water out of the cooler and repacked it with ice. We decided to take Route 14 into the park instead of I-90 through Montana and coming into Yellowstone from the north. It seemed we only had about 100 miles left before entering Yellowstone. What we didn't know was how steep and windy this 100 miles would be causing it to take a little longer than anticipated. On this route into Yellowstone there are two parks you go through. The first is Bighorn National Forest. It was very early and snow was still on the ground. We started seeing some wildlife through this park including a harrier, a wolf or coyote from a distance, and our first up close bison.

We then traveled through the town of Cody and into Shoshone National Forest. This park wasn't as slow as Bighorn and it wasn't long before we were at the booth for Yellowstone. We found out the road from Tower to Canyon was closed until Friday due to the season and from Fishing Bridge to Canyon was closed until Thursday due to a water main break. After a slow drive into the park from the snowy east side we came upon Yellowstone lake. It is late May and still 95% covered by ice. The mountains made a perfect background for our first pic and stop inside the park.

After a few photos and a visit to a very stinky outhouse we set off for our campground on the west side of the park in Madison. We really didn't see anything exciting on our way to the site. It was a slow drive in the park and we made to the site and started to set up camp. We quickly ate and set up the tent and were on our way out to explore the park. We started heading north and just passed Norris when we saw our first baby Bisons aka red dogs.

After a quick stop we ventured just another few miles to Nymph lake where we saw eagles fighting over a rotting carcass in the water. It was very interesting to see eagles battle over a meal in air. In the picture, you can see one is a mature bald eagle while the other is immature.

Only a few miles from the eagles we came upon Grizzly Lake and traffic was slowed to a crawl for some reason. There was a bout 25 cars stopped all looking just past a stream running right next to the road. People were standing outside their car and everyone was taking pictures of a grizzly bear. I got so excited and didn't know what to do because the ranger was keeping traffic moving and there was no where to park. I was driving, so Mel told me next time we stop, get out, and I will drive through and back around. So, I jumped out with the 300mm and the camcorder and Mel continued on through traffic. I got about twenty seconds of footage and snapped 25 photos of the bear before he disappeared into some trees away from the crowd. Mel turned around and picked me back up and we both couldn't believe we were just about 40 yards from a grizzly bear.

We continued past Mammoth Hot Springs and towards Lamar valley only slowing down for bison in the road. More babies along the road, seems like Yellowstone had a huge year for baby bisons. After Mammoth Springs we came upon the Yellowstone picnic area where a bunch of cars were stopped. We looked into the rocks and saw too bighorn rams laying down. The bigger of the two was in the sun but laying sideways to the crowd. It isn't the greatest picture but the other was buryed in the shade underneath a tree with no chance of a photo.

We stopped and watched the osprey nest near Tower in the Yellowstone River gorge. Amazing how big an osprey nest and not seeing it built on a man made structure like in Montezuma. We drove through Lamar Valley not seeing much besides elk and bison. We decided to hike a trail so we stopped at the Trout lake trail. Certain times of the year this place has waterfowl, osprey, and even otters. We did not see otters but did see a pair of osprey fishing and two male Barrow's Goldeneye chasing each other.

Tired from the walk, which doesn't take much for us to tire, we started driving back to our campsite because the light was fading. On our way back to the site we saw a beautiful bull elk. I was too lazy to put on the shorter lens, so we got a very close up shot of him grazing.

It was now too dark to see into the fields and we pushed along towards our site. Just before Norris a lone wolf ran in front of the car and we watched him move along the road as we drove forward. He stayed with us for a few hundred feet before disappearing into the wilderness. Mel and I were so excited to see something I wasn't sure was gonna happen for us. Not only that but it came within 25 yards of our car. No pictures were taken of the wolf because of the darkness. We crashed early in our tent to wake up before sunrise and couldn't wait for a full day in the park.

Check out the many photos I am processing as I continue through the days of this here

1 comment:

Winnie said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip with lots of wonderful photos to it. I love the second one in this post.