Yellowstone Up Close and Personal
07 - 08 July 2009 Trip Report
by John William Uhler
~ July 2009 ~
Tuesday - 07 July 2009
I dropped Carlene off at the Mammoth clinic before 8:00 AM and headed out towards Lamar Valley. I wanted to take pictures and video of Undine Falls but the light was wrong. So I headed down the road and stopped at Lava Creek Picnic Area to take some photos and video. After the film shoot, I decided to continue on east towards Roosevelt. I turned in at the road leading to the petrified tree and saw a large black bear down in the little valley at the first pullout. I got out and setup the spotting scope and enjoyed looking at two black bears and sharing the scope with all who wanted to see the bears close up without being close up. We looked down the valley and there on the hillside was a large bull moose, so I set the scope up on him an shared the viewing. After about a half hour I moved on towards Lamar.
I next stopped at the Yellowstone Picnic Area to film. But before I did that, there were a few folks parked along the road and some folks pulled into the picnic area and grabbed their cameras and headed towards the road. I asked what was going on and they said there was a bear just on the hillside opposite the picnic area. I got out the camera and headed over. We spotted a large sow grizzly and two cubs, they were grubbing and slowly making their way across the hillside. It was a nice sighting and I was able to talk to a lot of nice folks there that were just thrilled to see the three great bears. It had really been a great morning so far to be back in Yellowstone. After I was finished filming the picnic area I had lunch and a small break. After the break I decided to head east towards Lamar Valley and see what might be happening in that area. It would be very hard to beat five bears and a moose, but I was willing to try. Some friends had reported that there were two otter families being seen fairly regularly at Trout Lake. Carlene and I love watching otters, they are such clowns and fun to see and watch.
Well the morning just kept getting better. Just east or pass the Soda Butte Cone there were two black wolves standing out in the valley. They were from the Druid Peak Pack. It was great to see them back in the area of their den site. They gave a lot of visitors a thrill of a lifetime to see and enjoy wolves back in the wilds of Yellowstone. What a morning in Parkadise!
After watching the wolves I headed east towards Pebble Creek Campgrounds. I pulled into the campgrounds and parked by the campground hosts RV. I had a very nice visit with Ray and we did some catching up on what had gone on in our lives since we last saw each other just about five years ago. It was a very nice visit and great to see him again. I then filmed the Pebble Creek Campgrounds. I was ready to head back west to Trout Lake at about 2:00 PM.
At about 2:30 PM I pulled into the Trout Lake pullout. I met two other friends there, Bob Landis and Brian Connolly. They were both packing up to head back to their places of abode. Bob had been up filming the otters and Brian had been there also watching and filming. We had a nice chat and caught up with what we all had been up to. Bob has a new film of Grizzlies that will be seen on PBS on Nature this coming fall. This will be a first for Bob as besides filming, which he has done very well for years, they asked Bob to also narrate the film. That will be great to see and enjoy. They headed out and I hiked up to Trout Lake. This is a nice .25 up hill hike, it is pretty steep, but if you take your time, it is doable. It was a beautiful partly sunny afternoon. I hiked around the lake to the inlet and found a nice spot to sit and watch for the otters. The otters were no where to be seen. So after about an hour and a half, I headed down to the car to move on.
I next made my way to Slough Creek Campground to take some photos and video. This a very nice small creekside campground. It is kind of out of the way in a beautiful setting. After I was done filming, I decided it was time to head back to Mammoth Hot Springs.
The three grizzly bears were out just past the Yellowstone Picnic Area. They were on the same side of the road as the picnic area and just down hill a ways.
I continued on west towards Mammoth. Just past Undine Falls there was a huge bear jam. There was a very nice cinnamon black bear just off the road. Folks were stopped and parked all over the place including the road. The rangers arrived and tried to make sure no one got hurt and to ease the chaos. There was no place to park, so I slowly drove by and got a nice moving view of the bear and continued on my way.
What a great day in the park. Six bears, three grizzlies, two black bears and one cinnamon black bear, and a bull moose. Two black wolves and antelope, bison, elk and coyotes. Nice to meet some old friends and share some time together in the park. A day to enjoy and remember.
Wednesday - 08 July 2009
I dropped Carlene off at the Mammoth Clinic and headed out to Lamar Valley. My main goal today was to get to Trout Lake and film the otters. It was 56 degrees and a partly sunny day. At 8:39 AM there was a black bear sow with two cubs just past or east of the Yellowstone Picnic Area. The cubs you see on this page are of the cubs while driving and taking pictures through the car window. They were too close to the road to stop. They were very cute and playful.
At 8:58 AM, there was a very large crowd at the Foot Bridge Pullout. Every parking spot taken with vehicles parked all over the place. The rangers were there trying to keep things under control. The group was looking back across the road (north side), towards the Druids den site. Apparently the Druids were out and about and thrilling a lot of visitors to the park.
At about 9:05 AM I arrived at the Trout Lake pullout and grab my gear and headed up to Trout Lake. I slowly made my way to the lake and then skirted around the lake on the south side to the inlet stream. It wasn't too crowded. A few folks were fishing for cutthroat trout and a few others just hiking around the lake looking for otters. No otters were in view at this time. When I got to the inlet, a photographer had set a ten gallon aquarium in the inlet and had a camera in it with a remote device. The cutthroat trout were spawning up the inlet and he was taking photos of them.
I chatted with the photographer and his wife for a bit. They had seen the otter earlier but they had disappeared from sight. I made my way around the lake to the area just before the inlet by a large log that was in the water that the otters sometimes use. I sat down and took a few pictures and just enjoyed the morning. There were several small family groups who had passed above me on the hillside as they headed around the lake to the other side. They had been told that was a good place to see the otters.
After a little over an hour and no otters, I had decided I was just too late. I started to make my way over the small inlet bridge when the mother otter and a cub appeared by the log (about 10:30 AM). I made my way back over and sat down and watched the mother eat a cutthroat trout while the cub was behind some tall grass on the shore and out of my sight. I took pictures and video of mostly the mother otter. A small group assembled and quietly enjoyed watching and filming the otters. After about twenty minutes the mother was done with her meal and she and her cub headed back into the lake and out of view.
Until the next time my friends, enjoy the great outdoors and all that is around you with family and friends! Keep smiling, laugh much, and enjoy life.
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by John William Uhler
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