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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

15 - 17 May 2009 Trip Report

Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Raven by John William Uhler © Copyright All Rights Reserved

~ May 2009 ~

Mount Haynes by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Friday - 15 May 2009

I left work at about noon and by 3:05 PM I was watching a grizzly in Swan Lake Flats. At 4:00 PM I found Ralph at Hellroaring Overlook and then I spotted a grizzly sow with two cubs of the year (coy's) near Little Buffalo. At 7:00 PM I saw a grizzly near the road north and west of Fisherman's Pullout. At 7:15 PM I found a grizzly sow with two two year old cubs low in Slough Creek viewed from the Bathroom. At 7:30 PM I spotted a grizzly south of Aspen Pullout viewed from Slough Creek bathroom. At 9:00 PM I saw a large cinnamon bear on the road at Rainly Lake. Stayed in Tower Campground both nights, campsite # 16. Low's in the morning near freezing and in the 60's in PM.

Saturday - 16 May 2009

A very good day for grizzlies started high in Crystal with a grizzly heading east. Saw it again coming thru the Salad Bowl in Lamar. At 6:30 AM I had two separate grizzlies on a carcass in the large meadow west and south of Coyote Overlook. Actually Margaret found a third that I didn't see. Another roadside grizzly about 125 yards off the road north and west of Coyote Overlook. The Druid wolf pack was located on Jasper Bench and moved east toward the rendezvous site. Had at least 4 blacks and 2 grays, they were spread out traveling back in one's and two's. Meanwhile around 7:00 AM I spotted a large dark grizzly in the bowl south and west of the Institute, first high bear of the year (most have been low and down by the river and creeks). At 9:00 AM I saw the same grizzly south of Long Pullout, that was out last night. 9:15 AM I found a black bear across Slough Creek viewed from the bathroom. At 9:30 AM the grizzly sow with two two year olds were 200 yards west of last night's sighting. A little later a large black bear crossed the Lion Meadow west to east. Before noon I found a black bear at Calcite, usually place on the curve near the river canyon. Ralph called from Hellroaring, the grizzly sow with two coy's was out again. Spend the next four hours watching her. Ralph cooked lunch (hot dogs and beans), Margaret added pudding and cookies. We must have shown 300 people those grizzlies, had a constant group of cars pulling in to look. Around 5:40 PM I spotted a grizzly south of the Institute, across the Lamar River viewed from Coyote, it later came close to the road. I found a grizzly with one yearling on the Ski Slope. Margaret found a grizzly digging in the large meadow south of Coyote. We had heard from Calvin, a wolf watcher, that the grizzly with two yearlings was out at Footbridge. Margaret arrived first and couldn't locate them, but found a grizzly with a coy way, way back on the hill/mountain behind the Druid Den site. The coy was a pistol, running all around. Meanwhile, we found a blond grizzly south of Footbridge and later found the grizzly with the two yearlings from Footbridge (to the north).

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

Sunday - 17 May 2009

We seemed to be in the wrong places early in the morning. Had a moose east of Footbridge near the Soda Butte Creek. Finally had a grizzly north and west of Fisherman's Pullout viewed from Coyote Overlook. Then Ralph found the grizzly sow with two yearlings east and north of Footbridge. Had to watch them while moving in the car, as that area all the way to the Soda Butte Cone is a no stopping, walking area again. Prior to that, we spotted two wolves south of the confluence near the Cache Creek trail (apparently a carcass from Saturday night - Brain C. closed the trail from Footbridge, as it was close to the trail and apparently a hiker was run off by a grizzly Saturday PM. Jan and Bill were nice enough to call us that they had critters at Slough Creek up on Dave's Hill. A really large grizzly in the bottoms, a black bear over near Peregrine, a black bear near Rose Creek Pack #9's old den and a third black bear near where the grizzly family was yesterday. Mike O. soon found the grizzly sow with two two year olds 600-700 yards east of yesterday's sightings (stayed in the same area all weekend). I heard rumors of a grizzly on a carcass near Junction Butte, and it was walking 50 yards off the road west of the Yellowstone Picnic area (lots of photographers). I found a black bear in the clearing above Floating Island Lake. And finally I spotted a gray wolf in the clearing east of the double pullouts at Hellroaring, viewed from the upper pullout.

Other News:

Still snow in the shady areas. Ralph's Tower campsite had 3 foot on the tent side, but most of the campsite is bare. The west side of the park has 8-10 inches in the shady areas (like Beaver Lake Picnic area). Areas like Swan Flats are mostly water now, from all the melted snow. All the rivers are high, but not cresting yet. Both eagles are on the nest across from Coyote Overlook. All the osprey on nests, the one closest to Tower store has no eggs yet. There was a grizzly (female I am told) that was roadside near Roaring Mountain with porcupine quills in her feet (really getting thin per Jack G). Jack G. shot a picture of a grizzly in the corrals at Roosevelt, proves that the park service in penning the grizzlies up. This is the grizzly with the bad limp, not putting any weight on the fourth leg at all. But must be doing OK, seen last weekend south of Slough, mid week in the bottoms at Hellroaring and last at Calcite Springs. No sightings of grizzly #399 in the Teton's but the male sub-adult has been consistly near Oxbow.

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