Sunday, April 7, 2013

Shoshone National Forest - Part 3

We have blown by this campground a hundred times over the past couple of years and never stopped here.
I have no idea why, but on this trip we finally decided to pull in and check it out.
It was still empty and silent this early in the year.  A campground in wait for the throngs of visitors that will stay overnight on their way to Yellowstone.
We were completely surrounded on all sides by mountains and silence, and LC, Jamie and I quietly wandered through the area.
It was turning (as it always does when we travel out to the Shoshone National Forest) into a long and slow trip.
There is too much to see, too many places to explore, too much beautiful to explore, and we always spend more time out there we had originally planned.
Even last summer and at the height of the tourist season, there are more isolated and lonely places to explore in the fifty mile span between Cody and Yellowstone than we could ever possibly see in a lifetime.
We will see campers and trailers and loaded down SUV's traveling the highway between the city and the park this summer, and the campgrounds will be filled with travelers, but in the past we have easily found picnic areas and side roads close to the river that were still empty places.
We like that.  We like that very much.............
We spent a long time at this pull off.
For those interested in camping, it is a beautiful site.
On this day we walked to the bank overlooking the river, followed the river for a short while, wandered through the woods and then wandered back to the campground, having no particular goals in mind other than simply wanting to extend the length of the solitude of our journey.
I need places like this.  So does LC.
Not simply to feed our need for quiet and beautiful places, but to also feed our need to hang onto each other and keep a hold onto anything that we can find that is good and beautiful.
We hang on tight.  To each other and to the tenuous bond that continually draws us out into nature.................
My sweet and spoiled dog Jamie.............
Signs of recent bear activity................
After spending so long at the campground we loaded back into the truck intending to move it along.
The day was getting away from us, we had been out for a good number of hours and both of us were starting to get hungry.
I had packed sandwiches, drinks and cookies to eat during our trip but (because both of us had skipped breakfast) the sandwiches had been eaten by the time we reached Buffalo Bill Reservoir long ago.
Cookies and drinks - done as well.  I wanted food.
I wanted food until I saw the two buffalo (one sitting and one standing) in a field off in the distance.
Pizza instantly forgotten I pointed at the buffalo, and without me even asking, LC immediately looked for a place to pull the truck over to the side of the road..............
Right after we stopped the truck the standing buffalo turned and immediately headed into the woods close to the river and disappeared.............
My Mountain Boy obligingly inched the truck forward until we were parked directly in front of the still-sitting lone bison..............
I quickly snapped a few pictures of this beautiful thing that was sitting in front of us, and then zoomed my camera in, in an attempt to get closer pictures of him.
Quickly snapping a couple more pictures I realized that he was very animated.
Much more animated than the many many bison we have seen over the past couple of years, who always seem content to just quietly and unmovingly sit in the grass.
This one was neither quiet nor content.
He shook his head.  He rolled onto his side and then quickly rolled back up into a sitting position before shaking his head again.
We had never seen this before and as we continued to watch him curiously LC and I speculated about why he was acting the way he was................
Click on any picture and it will enlarge.
Shaking his head (above) and rolling onto his side (picture below)..........
I was so busy furiously snapping pictures as quickly as I could, really wanting to record this unusual activity, that I was surprised when I realized that our boy very suddenly stood up.
Our experience told us that this was all very unusual behavior.
We had seen buffalo many times.  They had always grazed quietly, walked slowly and quietly, sat quietly, bonded with other buffalo quietly.
Such animation and sudden movement was not typical.............
He stood quickly, shook himself off, grazed for a few moments and then walked over to this small pine sapling.
Jamie during this time had sat absolutely still and did not make a sound in the back seat of the truck.
She is always enthralled with these huge, hairy beasts and as I glanced quickly back towards her to see what she was doing I smiled as I realized that her ears were down, her face was pressed right up against the partially open back window, and she was frantically sniffing the air outside.  Our sweet pup's way of trying to process what was happening and what she was seeing.
The bison spent the next few minutes rubbing his head up against the small pine tree and then suddenly lifted his head and........he was gone.
One moment he was busily rubbing his head against the tree, the next moment he raised his tail and instantly went into full run.
And then disappeared into the woods in the same area as the first bison.
I turned to look at LC.  Did you SEE that??
The smile told me that he had.............
Both bison had now disappeared into the tree line, and we stayed in one place for another few minutes, curious to see whether these wonderful, powerful, beautiful animals would reappear.
We caught a quick glance at one or the other through the trees every once in a while - a quick shot of black - before it (or they) disappeared from view again.
An amazing and completely unexpected encounter............

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