Friday, July 1, 2011

Finally Yellowstone East Gate - Part 3

During our two brief trips into Yellowstone Park I have quickly learned that when there is a slew of vehicles parked along the side of the road there is wildlife to be seen close by.
As we continued back through Teton National Park and then back into the Yellowstone we saw a lot of action up ahead with multiple cars along the side of the highway and people walking and looking and pointing.
I searched over to my right and was very excited to see a very large brown spot and a couple of smaller brown spots lumbering slowly in the lush green grass of a wide open field.
A momma grizzly and her new cubs.
By the time we arrived on the scene the traffic (both vehicular and people) was chaotic and I could hear a park ranger instructing folks to move along.
There was nowhere to park, a ranger was waving car traffic to keep moving and I took these pictures while still in the truck and while we were compelled to pass by.
I decided on this trip that, while it was very wonderful to see the terrain so lush and green and growing, that I actually enjoy outdoor areas in this region much more when the weather is cold and when it is quiet.
Few people to deal with, very little traffic to deal with, and animals are actually much easier to see at leisure during this "down time" because many of them gravitate out of the hills so they can feed in the low lands.
When we first arrived in Cody and first drove out towards Yellowstone through the Shoshone National Forest we experienced hundreds of big horn sheep and many small herds of bison, all quietly feeding alongside or close to the highway.
They were everywhere, grazing on grasses that were then unavailable up in the mountains in the midst of winter.
We saw some wildlife during our long day in Yellowstone on Sunday, but nothing like we had experienced in March and April and May.
Re: bear sightings, these are blog posts of bears that we came across while up in Juneau.
These were not the only bears we saw last summer but they are the only ones I had the opportunity to capture in pictures.  
Another lesson I have learned is that unexpectedly outstanding nature encounters can come and go almost before you realize what just happened.
Gone before you know it with the picture sometimes captured forever only in your minds' eye.
For a land-locked state there are more lakes and rivers in Wyoming than I ever realized.
Again needing a break from so much driving LC pulled the truck into a campground parking lot and while he and James explored through the trees I walked down to the sandy shore of this very large and quiet lake.
I could have happily explored here for hours - wandering along the beach, looking out over the water and over to the mountains if given the opportunity, but that would not happen on this day.
We are on the hunt (have been for a couple of weeks) for a camper so that we can spend more leisurely time in the national and state forests............
Right after I wrote the entry above I received a phone call from LC who was running errands in town.
I went to town to see what he and James had found and it was a camper.
18 footer, double bed, table and two seats, shower, toilet, sink, stove and refrigerator (that does not work), lots of storage.
It is old (built when I was only 13 years old) and a little beat up (but only a little),  is sturdy and needs only minor work.
It now belongs to us and we'll go down to the lot where we bought it early next week and bring it home.
We got it dirt cheap, I'll take pictures of it once it is home and I am very pleased............
I spent more time alone walking this place than intended, not wanting to leave.
I could have been here all day.
Just by this one lake...................
One more river and one more stop...............
When you are traveling the Yellowstone you just take the park as it comes - one more beautiful scene after another, one more animal sighting after another, one more eco-system after another.
But after posting the pictures and then thinking back over our trip it is amazing that we could travel from hot and green to warm and snow and then back again so quickly and so often.
Time after time during the trip.............
We stopped at this section of the lake only briefly and walked James down to the water.
Early in the day on the way through both parks the weather had been really nice, but by this time it was late in the day and the weather had just worked itself into even more beautiful.
It was very warm.  The sky was almost perfectly blue.  The water was almost perfectly blue..............
This picture was taken through the truck windshield.
As we came around a bend in the road we saw a cow elk and calf in the middle of the road obviously flustered, momma looking frantically around in all directions and unsure in which direction to go.
If the driver of the silver vehicle had stopped she may have settled down and taken her time crossing the highway.
But the driver did not stop and instead slowly continued rolling forward quickly scaring the elk back into the woods on the same side of the road.
On our drive home we had a number of other wildlife encounters none of which I could capture in pictures.
Each time we were alerted to the encounters by rows of manic and inattentive drivers and walkers and photographers, making it impossible for us to stop.
A huge male elk with very large rack deep in a thicket of tall pine trees.  
By the time we arrived on the scene I heard a ranger talking through a speaker asking people to back away from the animal.
Looking into the woods as we passed by I saw first his huge rack of antlers and then realized he was sitting on the ground guardedly watching the group of 15 or so tourists who were standing only 10 feet away from him.
The second encounter was a black bear also deep in a thicket of burned out pine trees.
I did try to take pictures of him on the move but only managed to catch multiple pictures of burn-scarred pine trees.  Oh well.
Our last un-pictured encounter was that of a bison grazing in a wide open field, scores of tourists standing too close to him, and yet one more ranger speaking through a megaphone urging people to back away............
One more boat marina...............
By 6pm we were all very tired and even though I had resolved by this point to just head home without anymore stopping we passed Fishing Bridge and LC pulled the truck into one more busy parking lot so that I could walk.
I walked the length of the bridge on one side taking pictures, crossed the busy highway and walked back on the opposite side, taking pictures as I went...............
I was surprised when we came across these two bison (one grazing and one sitting) that we were alone in the parking lot.
They were quiet and content (fat and sassy as my Mountain Boy would say) and we took a few minutes to watch and enjoy them before continuing on.............
For all of the healthy trees, lakes and rivers and mountains we found the other day there were also large swaths of area that looked like this.............
The one and only big horn sheep that we saw all day (and only 10 miles from the East Gate) was balancing on rocky and steep terrain that dropped down into a very steep canyon.
I took this picture on the move............
The beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel...........Theodore Roosevelt

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