We all three sat watching this lone bison as he slowly crossed over the road, slowly walked along the edge of the road, and then eventually grazed his way up a short hill and settled into the cedar trees.
He was the only buffalo we saw on this trip.
A lone Neanderthal - walking slowly and methodically in that calm and deceptive way that buffalo have.
Those who don't know better get lulled into a false sense of security every year in the park.
These animals appear calm, deliberate, lumbering when you see them alone and in herds, but they are strong, determined, and capable of moving astonishingly quickly when they unexpectedly decide to turn it on.
And at least once each year a tourist (armed with a camera and who has gotten too close) is injured by one of these prehistoric throwbacks.
They are wonderful creatures to watch.
But we always get a little nervous when they wander too close to our truck.
You just never know..............
Going further and seeing more.
Pictures snapped through the windshield while on the move..............
We drove as far as Wayfarers Church before turning back.
We had planned on pulling off the winding two lane highway, turning onto the gravel road and climbing the steep hill leading to the parking area close to the outdoor chapel, but there was too much snow.
The snow leading up to the parking turn around was surprisingly deep and was mixed with ice, and we were reminded yet again that the North Fork is a whole different world.
On this day there was no snow at all in Cody.
But the park and the mountains surrounding us in Shoshone National Forest make their own weather.
This part of the world still had a whole lot of winter remaining.
Instead of pulling up to the chapel, LC did a U turn and pulled the truck as far off the road as he could so that we could all climb out and explore close to the river..............
This is why we came to Cody.
The river and the mountains.
Even after seven months LC and I still look around us in awe and appreciation.
This morning we stood on a hill out on BLM land just outside of town while Kory happily roamed from bush to bush, and rock to rock, in search of hapless bunnies to chase.
We looked out across the vastness of open land and saw Carter Mountain, and Cedar Mountain, and Rattlesnake Mountain, and Heart Mountain, and McKullough Peaks that were all close by.
And we looked beyond these rises to snow covered mountain ranges in the distance.
It felt right....................
And as we stood in the snow in the North Fork on THIS day, looking around at endless mountains whose names we don't know and looking down at the snow lined Shoshone River we thought the exact same thing.
It felt right................
One last stop on the way home, so that I could snap a picture of the frozen waterfall................
Looking back towards the vehicle.
We were wandering in a frozen campground that was closed for the season.................
There are fewer animals in the North Fork than there was during the winter proper.
It has been a mild winter this year and the animals have fared well.
Although it is still only early spring in the Rockies, animals have already begun to return to the mountains.
Likely we will see fewer bison and big horn sheep during our trips from now on.
And that's OK.
Nature working the way it is supposed to be working..................
Although I deeply love oceans, deserts and other wild landscapes, it is only mountains that beckon me with that sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper into their beauty. They keep me continuously wanting to know more, feel more, see more.............Victoria Erickson