Trip Report 5-5-13

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Posted by RandalH ( on 12:57:03 05/06/13

After life and Mom Nature played havoc with my traditional spring plans, I FINALLY got into the park on Sunday. I was pleasantly impressed with the amount of snow in the high country coming over Sylvan and dropping down into the Lake area, thinking things might not be as bad as I thought for the summer. Oh the ignorance of first impressions.

There wasn't much to see between the East Entrance and Fishing Bridge aside from a few scattered bison and waterfowl (one of these years I must get around to memorizing the birds of Yellowstone better...). Heading north from Fishing Bridge, the first excitement of the day came between the Nez Perce Ford and Mud Volcano, a good-sized griz in the meadow on the river-side of the road. And, as usually the case, annoying located just beyond the fringes of my 300mm lens, but wonderfully positioned for the 60x scope (I must either win a lottery for a larger camera lens or figure a way to shoot through my scope...). Watched for more than an hour and was optimistic the griz might move closer to the road, but no such luck. (My office mate caught two lone wolves in the Hayden

Drove north to the Lower Falls, again with only bison and waterfowl to speak of (not that those are bad things!). The snow bridge is down at the Falls. Snow levels are down a bit from what I recall in earlier years at Canyon, but not horridly bad. After grabbing some food at Canyon, the drive to Norris was still pretty winter-locked, a few bison in the Norris meadow/campground area. Over to Mammoth and toward the Lamar...elk, bison and pronghorn heading over to Blacktail Ponds -- easily the most pronghorn I've seen. The northern stretch of the park looks and feels like an early June week more than an early May week. So much for those reassuring thoughts about fire season that the East Entrance produced. Bighorns along the road just west of Floating island Lake.

One griz and two black bears (I think) along the tree line between Specimen and the Lamar River bridge. Everything was hanging out on the fringes of visibility, even with the scope at 60x. They were bears...bears are good! Lots of bison through that stretch as well, although very few littles. On the way back down, there were a lot of bison running from the old road region near the Lamar Bridge paralleling the road and crossing to head down toward the river. No reason seen for why they were running...maybe it was just time for an evening jog.

The Lamar valley seemed pretty quiet. Lots of pronghorn around the Buffalo Ranch...the obligatory horde of bison. Coyotes, wolves, wolf watchers all nary to be seen. Above Round Prairie things are still fairly winterish. Just missed a moose at Silver Gate. I'm told the foxes are still around, but no such luck for me.

The highlight of the drive back through the park was an unknown black rear-end pouncing into a snow pile that I caught out of peripheral vision just south of Canyon. Unfortunately, I had two vehicles tight on me so I had to proceed to the old lodge entrance to pull off and flip a the time I got back, whatever "it" was was disappearing into treeline, so the best I can say is badger-ish size, possibly slightly larger...the black backside is really throwing me in the ID department though. The griz was still around as I went back past Mud Volcano and the day's last griz was seen outside the park as I returned toward Cody on the North Fork, near Clearwater Creek.

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