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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

26 - 28 June 2009 Trip Report

Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Wolves near Canyon by John William Uhler © Copyright All Rights Reserved

~ June 2009 ~

Mount Haynes by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Friday - 26 June 2009

Summer has arrived. Lots of traffic and all lodging and campgrounds filled when I entered to park just after 2:00 PM. I was running a little ahead of schedule, so decided to do a quick run up to Hayden Valley. At grizzly overlook, Luke had a boar grizzly just go out of sight (it came back in sight a few minutes later). Becky and Chloe were also at the pullout. They had been watching three of the four Canyon Pack wolves, for six hours, they were bedded but the black one got up and moved around a bit while I was there. I headed up and over Dunraven Pass and Ralph called on the CB from Antelope Creek about two grizzlies in the 10-4 meadow. Sure enough a blond grizzly (sow I think) in number 2 and a large grizzly in # 3 at 10-4 meadows (we have numbered them from top to bottom, the highest one, closer to Dunraven is # 1 and the # 3 is the one that would be closer to Tower. A big shower was coming in but I located a grizzly with at least one cub of the year (coy) in a little clearing right and below Roof Top (the weather came in and we never saw her again - thought they may have been a second coy, but will never know now). Ralph stayed at Antelope for the evening, so I headed for Lamar Valley. A large black bear near Boulder Lake Pullout on the way there. I had heard of a bison carcass viewed from Footbridge, back near Cache Creek and watched two black wolves on it the rest of the evening. Also had two wolves cross the river and road just east of Footbridge, the tourists thought they were puppies, but one was collared. At 8:15 PM, I found a courting pair of grizzlies on the skyline south of Institute (just dots, but on the skyline pretty good viewing). Ralph had a camping spot at Tower. Rained early in the night but cleared and was 34 degrees in the valley at first light.

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

Saturday - 27 June 2009

I headed for Lamar and found everything east of Tower Junction fogged in. I headed up to Antelope Creek, found a grizzly in 10-4 # 1 and then in # 3 at 10-4 another grizzly. Carma and Jennings were up for the weekend and Carma found a grizzly way back on the skyline and then another in a little sliver above # 1 clearing. Ralph was up the road and found another grizzly in a little opening above # 1 at 10-4. We went up the road and could view the large grizzly in # 1 and the second grizzly in the higher meadow in the same scope. We were kind of surprised when someone hollered that there was a grizzly right behind us, while viewing grizzlies at 3 miles plus, old scar face came out behind us and moved down and crossed the road by Cittenden Road. Ralph was talking earlier in the week to Bear Management, scar face is # 211, now at least 18 years old, and is a big grizzly. He has a collar, appears to be a little tight on him. A few minutes later Ralph found a nice light brown grizzly near the big rock pullout half way to Dunraven Pass. It put on a show and soon crossed the road heading down. About 10:00 AM back at Antelope Creek, Ralph found a courting pair of grizzly on the backside of Specimen Ridge, way left of Gun Sight. Then found another courting pair of grizzlies way right on Roof Top. At 4:15 PM I spotted a black bear right of # 3 at 10-4. At 5:00 PM, I found another lone grizzly on the backside of Specimen Ridge. Ralph stayed at Antelope Creek for the evening and I went back to Lamar.

Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

The bison carcass had quite a bit of activity the rest of the evening 7 - 9 PM. One black wolf on the carcass, and it had to move when three different grizzlies came down to the carcass from the east. A large dark one claimed the carcass, while a colorful one waited his turn (the dark one never let it in, twice chasing it away). Had another black wolf arrive, but only saw one wolf at a time. Soon two other grizzlies came in, a sow with a two year old (I think), came in too, but weren't allowed on the carcass because of the large dark grizzly. Towards evening, I heard of another bison carcass straight across the river south of the Old Lamar Picnic area. The ugliest gray wolf I have even seen was on it (appeared to have mange, most of the tail was hairless (but Rick, who couldn't identify the wolf, said that a lot of wolves are losing their winter fur and maybe wasn't as bad as it looked). Meanwhile another wolf, a black, chased a lone bison calf to the east, the little calf made a herd of bison, but if that was his mother (the carcass south of picnic area), his days are numbered anyway. At 9:50 PM, I had a large black bear just off the road near Boulder Lake.

Sunday - 28 June 2009

I left camp a little earlier and found two grizzlies on the carcass south of picnic just before 5:00 AM. One was old white collar, a bear we have been seeing early in the year for a few years now. We always thought it was a pretty large grizzly, but the second one on the carcass ruled and chased white collar off. About 5:50 AM, I found the courting pair of grizzlies on the skyline (I assumed it was them, first had the sow who ran down into the forest, then the boar appeared and it grazed and fead up and over the skyline, looks like the romance was over). Next, I spotted a black bear in the timber line south of the Institute around 6:00 AM. At 6:50 AM I found old scar face between Mae West and Trash can #58 up Antelope Creek. He was 100-250 yards below the road, but you had to go down the hill to see him. Viewing from the big rock pullout just north of #58 was good. A little while later I spotted a grizzly in # 3 at 10-4. I then found a grizzly in # 1 at 10-4. The light brown grizzly up near the big curve rock pullout was out again, 50 yards below the road. And finally a nice blonder grizzly further up the road, about where the big horn sheep come down.

Other News

In addition to Carma and Jennings, Margaret from Bozeman was up, so had a few bear watchers to help. Saturday night a sink hole developed where the the horses cross a wooded bridge straight east and just going down the hill from Roosevelt Junction They have been seeing 5 to 6 wolf puppies from the Blacktail Pack near Frog Rock / Children's Firewalk to the SE. The main osprey nest near Tower is abandoned now. The seven lambs of big horn sheep at Calcite are getting bigger. I get Friday off because of the 4th, so plan to spend three days at Yellowstone next weekend. Ralph in talking to Bear Management was told of quite a few sow grizzlies still having their two year old cobs, thought that was interesting as usually anytime after about June 1, they run them off to mate.

Raven by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

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