Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 3: YNP/GTNP - 2011 Fall Trip

bear print on car by Mark/MPEG (Midwest Photography Enthusiasts Group)
bear print on car, a photo by Mark/MPEG (Midwest Photography Enthusiasts Group) on Flickr.

Day 3 and another long day. The weather forecast was 80% chance of rain and it never rained a drop, with cloudy to sunny all day!

We left for Lamar Valley at 7:00am. We arrived in Lamar around 7:35am and (of course) we were told we "just missed " the wolf pack. Dang! (hint: not the word I used). We quickly found a pronghorn buck and 3 females grazing near the road. We photographed them of sometime. Suddenly, the buck took off full speed about 200 yrds west and we wondered why then we saw the coyote it saw... the buck ran at the coyote, stopped about 10 yrds short of him, stared at him, the coyote got the hint, and left the area by crossing the road to the hills. A couple of  other stunning coyotes (beautiful winter coats) showed up and got some nice images of these guys.  Dan stayed with the pronghorn while Kim and I went through Lamar Valley and checked out Slough Creek and found a huge bison herd within yards of us. Got some great frame filling images of these guys. Dan and Bonnie joined us there. 

We moved on over to Mammoth, found several elk cow and a few bucks lounging in the yards in Mammoth. We went to Gardiner, had a very nice lunch and took pictures of the north entrance arch. We proceeded down to Norris area, and photographed Gibbon Falls. We stopped at Sheepeaters Cliff and got some nice images of a few birds and some "least chipmunks". We moved on to Hayden Valley and found a ton of people at the Grizzly overlook.... and sure enough, the Canyon wolf pack was running around about 3/4 mile out in Hayden Valley. With binocs, a spotting scope  or a long lens, you could easily watch them. The alpha female is beautiful. We saw a total of 5 wolves. Kim got to see her wolves but we are hoping for a better day in the morning at Lamar Valley. It is always exciting to watch the wolves.

The day slipped away from us and we headed back to Cooke City for dinner. We are headed to West Yellowstone tomorrow for the next 3 nights.

When we got back in Cooke City for dinner, we parked by the restaurant and a guy, standing near our car (where we parked) remarked to us about a "bear paw print" on our car door! I said, "huh?" and he said,  "look here"!  and sure enough there's a small bear paw print. (see pic above). It looks like a young black bear print. Apparently, the bear made it rounds to the cars in the parking lot as Dan's car had paw prints too! We HAD food in the car but moved it inside for that vary purpose- not to entice the bears. Apparently the smell of food being there lingered on the car. Bears have an amazing sense of smell, for good reason, as their survival depends on a great nose...

Another day in unpredictable Yellowstone.

What will tomorrow bring?

Stay Tuned for Day 4.

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