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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

17 - 19 April 2009 Trip Report

Trip Report ~ by By Bill Hamblin

Yellowstone Wolf ~ NPS Photo

~ April 2009 ~

Friday - 17 April ~ Opening Day 2009
Buffalo Parade by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Well the West Gate to Yellowstone opened at 8:00 AM this morning. I left work about 12:00 noon and had two pelicans flying over the Teton River as it crossed the highway. Weather for the weekend was great (for April) lows in the 30's (at Gardiner) and highs in the low 50's (in the Park). A pair of osprey on the nest in Island Park. One lone swan on the Snake River also in Island Park.

I ran into Rick at Blacktail and he directed me to Hellroaring Overlook. The Cottonwood Pack (five members 3 black and 2 gray) are denning in the same den at the Oxbox Pack last year and the Geode Pack about three years ago (both those packs no longer exist. The den is about 2 1/2 miles away, so seeing a black and a gray moving around the den was a wonder.

On the way out of the park, Ralph spotted the Evert's Pack near the Blacktail Ponds (six members 5 black and 1 gray), we only saw 4 black and the gray, assuming the alpha female is in a den somewhere.

The snow level in the park is about like usual for this time of year. About 1/2 way up Hellroaring is bare. Lots of snow still from Norris to Swan Lake Flats (about 2 feet yet), all of Lamar is snow covered, but Slough Creek and lower is about 1/2 bare now.

Ralph was up so we dined at the Best Western (the bar not the restraunt) and stayed outside the park.

Saturday - 18 April

Buffalo grazing by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Had howling before light at Blacktail Ponds, but no sightings (Bob L. had a grizzly Friday morning in that area). The big wolf news was that 12 (3 black and 9 gray) wolves of Mollies Pack was in Lamar, just north of the old Lamar Picnic area, which is only 1/2 to 3/4 mile from the Druid den. The Druid's are denning in the traditional area, north of Footbridge. The alpha male and female from Mollies was there, the female very pregnant. Only the alpha female of the Druids was around, but the Mollies never got over to the den area.

Found my first bison calf in Little America, already in will a herd of about 30 cows and yearlings. Dale from Oregon told me about a cow moose in Elk Creek.

A black bear (with at least one cub of the year (coy), I didn't see the coy), sighted at Garnett Hill by Jack G (and others). Only wolf for the day was a black at the Cottonwood den (I missed all the Mollies earlier).

Lots of elk and bison viewed from Hellroaring, not as many up the Lamar, and only a few in Lamar yet.

Old Faithful Eruption by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

We had a problem with dinner Saturday Night, the K-Bar is closed for repairs, so went to the Town Cafe, and had a really good pizza there (enough left over for Sunday breakfast.

Sunday - 19 April

The Druid's were back but only one gray visible from Footbridge, and later I had one south of the Confluence. Later Rick had signals on the Mollies near the Institute. Since Ralph and I had only seen 4 Mollies a few years ago, and that in Hayden Valley, we wolf watched this morning. After a bunch of howling that was going farther and farther away, Rick found them high South and West and high in the "bowl" and finally went over the top.

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