Yellowstone National Park 2014 Trip Reports
Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin
28 August through 16 September 2014
~ August 2014 ~
Thursday - 28 August
I got an early start leaving Idaho Falls at 3:30 a.m. and made the 475 miles to Two Medicine in seven and one half hours. I was ahead of schedule to get a campsite at Two Medicine Campground, which usually fills late afternoon, so decided to go to "looking glass" (an area on Highway 49 heading for St. Mary's about four miles from the Two Medicine entrance road). Ralph N. was there last evening and had a grizzly sow with three coy's so I headed there before getting a campsite. Within a few minutes I had the grizzly sow with three coy's in view for over 15 minutes. This was the only grizzly family group I found during the whole trip so I was delighted. I checked into a campsite and spent three and one half hours in the afternoon trying to relocate the family, with no luck. However, at 6:20 p.m. I had a large dark grizzly cross the clearing. One cow moose and a coyote rounded out my first day in the park. It was 75 degrees in the afternoon. At 7:30 p.m. I spotted a black bear grazing across Two Medicine Lake.
Friday - 29 August
46 degrees and fog in the morning warming up to 67 today. I headed over to the Many Glacier area before daylight and found a campsite for the rest of my trip. The roads outside of the park on the east side are loaded with horses and cows, and it was a slow and long drive over in the fog. Two cow moose in Fishercap Lake today. At 9:05 a.m. a small grizzly low on Mt. Wilber viewed from the Many Glacier Hotel. At 9:30 a.m. a small blond grizzly above the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn (this was the grizzly they call Baby Silver, a two and a half year old bear that got kicked out by the sow last year as a yearling). At 9:40 a.m. another light grizzly comes down from above and briefly plays with Baby Silver then both graze together for the next hour or two (the two had definitely met before). At 12:15 p.m. a cinnamon black bear north of Windy Creek. At 3:30 p.m. a collared grizzly above the Swiftcurrent Inn (this is a 20-22 year old sow grizzly who was the mother of Baby Silver and was suppose to have three coy's this spring, but lost all of them). At 7:00 p.m. a grizzly on Grinnell Point. Almost every bear, grizzly and black, are eating berries this time of year, which is good since a lot of times they stay in view for a long time.
Saturday - 30 August
60 degrees this morning warming up to 67 degrees. One coyote above Swiftcurrent Inn today. At 6:50 a.m. a light grizzly above Swiftcurrent Inn (it was the larger blond grizzly from yesterday). At 7:00 a.m. a black bear on Bullhead Point. At 7:30 a.m. a grizzly on Grinnell Point. At 11:30 a.m. a black bear on Highway 49 back near Two Medicine in the area called Looking Glass. At 6:35 p.m. a black bear on Mt. Wilber. At 7:30 p.m. a brown black bear with one brown cub on Grinnell Point.
Sunday - 31 August
54 degrees this morning warming up to 60 degrees. A cow moose and later a cow and yearling calf moose in Fishercap today. Barb B. found a coyote above the Inn today. I hiked passed Red Rock Lake today and had a large bull moose still in velvet just off the trail. A few elk north of Windy Creek this evening. At 6:50 a.m. a cinnamon black bear north of Windy Creek. At 7:45 a.m. a black bear on Bullhead Point. At 8:00 a.m. a different collared grizzly on Grinnell Point (this one had only a little white patch of the collar showing and since they only collar sows in Glacier it was a sow). At 8:20 a.m. a small brown grizzly above the Inn for only a short time. At 8:55 a.m. the cinnamon black bear sow with two cubs high and far south of Windy Creek. At 10:30 a.m. another grizzly this one without a collar on Grinnell Point. At 1:00 p.m. a grizzly swimming in Red Rock Lake viewed from the rocks just west of the Lake. At 3:00 p.m. a dark grizzly high behind Grinnell Point on Grinnell Mountain (it was way up in the bare ground above the tree line). At 4:30 p.m. a black bear north of Windy Creek.
~ September 2014 ~
Monday - 01 September
50 degrees this morning warming up to 59 degrees. At 7:20 a.m. a black bear on Bullhead Point. At 6:30 p.m. the collared grizzly with only a part of the white collar showing was on Grinnell Point. Today I walked up to Ice Berg Lake. It was a goal for me this year and friends Kim and Betsy from Kansas and Kevin and Barb from Minnesota walked up the trail with me. The lake is beautiful with the ice bergs in the lake but most on the far end of it. We had a large bull moose off trail with no signs of velvet. Also had both Golden Mantle and Columbia ground squirrels attempting to raid our backpacks.
Tuesday - 02 September
54 degrees this morning warming up to 62 degrees. I walked to Red Rock Lake today. Two immature golden eagles entertained us tonight on the skyline above the Inn. At 6:50 a.m. a black bear on Bullhead Point. At 1:50 p.m. a black bear in the river corridor east of the Hotel. At 4:00 p.m. a black bear north of Windy Creek. At 7:00 p.m. a cinnamon black bear on Grinnell Point.
Wednesday - 03 September
46 degrees this morning warming up to 58 degrees. A coyote above the Inn at Swiftcurrent. A cow moose with a yearling calf and a separate cow moose in Fishercap Lake today. A Hoary Marmot was out over at Looking Glass near Two Medicine. At 6:50 a.m. a black bear on Bullhead Point. At 6:55 a.m. a black bear east of Sheep Curve. At 12:30 p.m. a black bear in Looking Glass near Two Medicine. At 1:00 p.m. a large black bear at Looking Glass. At 1:30 p.m. another black bear in Looking Glass. At 6:00 p.m. a cinnamon black bear (unusual color with a black head and a brown body) and two black cubs in the Avalanche chute across from the Hotel. At 6:30 p.m. a grizzly on Grinnell Point. At 7:15 p.m. a cinnamon black bear with one brown cub on Grinnell Point.
Thursday - 04 September
37 degrees this morning warming up to 71 degrees. I had a fox and a coyote today, and ospreys fishing in Lake Sherburne. At 7:20 a.m. a black bar on Bullhead Point.
Friday - 05 September
35 degrees and frost this morning warming up to 71 degrees. A bull moose in velvet south of Windy Creek, and a cow moose in Fishercap Lake. At 6:45 a.m. a collared grizzly above the Swiftcurrent Inn. At 8:00 a.m. a grizzly on Mt. Wilbur. At 8:45 a.m. the cinnamon black bear sow with two black cubs east of Sheep Curve. At 9:00 a.m. a cinnamon black bear just off the road at Windy Creek. At 3:30 p.m. a large grizzly at Grinnell Point. At 4:30 p.m. a grizzly on Grinnell Point. And at 5:30 p.m. a third grizzly in view on Grinnell Point (Kim, Betsy and I kept watching the grizzlies disappear and then reappear on Grinnell Point and finally at 5:30 p.m. had all three in view at the same time.
Saturday - 06 September
37 degrees this morning warming up to 68 degrees. My friend Doug M. from Gardiner, Montana was up today and since I had already hiked up to Ice Berg Lake, he decided we would do Piegan Pass. So leaving around 6:00 a.m. we took his truck to Siyeh Bend near Logan Pass on the Going to the Sun Road and started there. Piegan Pass is 4.5 miles long with 1,700 feet elevation gain. We did that in 2.5 hours. Then down the other side back to the Grinnell Picnic Area in Many Glacier which was another 8.3 miles. A beautiful hike with only a few hikers on the trail until the last 3 and a half miles. We had several pikas near the pass which I have not seen in years. I'm sure Doug was not sure if I was going to complete the hike, but 7 and 3/4 hours later we arrived at the Grinnell Trailhead in Many Glacier. From the pass it was a lot of downhill for about 5 miles and one creek to cross with no bridge. Doug used his poles and easily crossed, then tossed the poles to me but I wasn't that graceful, but got across. The day was topped off with a shower and a great steak in Babb, Montana. At 7:30 p.m. a blond black bear sow with a dark cub on Bullhead Point (unusual looking black bear, almost looked the color of a grizzly). We had loons on Lake Josephine and later a beaver swimming in Fishercap Lake.
Sunday - 07 September
44 degrees this morning warming up to 73 degrees. Two separate cow moose in Fishercap Lake today. At 7:30 a.m. a black bear on Bullhead Point. At 8:00 a.m. a grizzly on Grinnell Point. At 8:10 a.m. a brown black bear on Grinnell Point. At 10:00 a.m. the cinnamon black bear sow with the two black cubs on Grinnell Point. And at 5:00 p.m. a black bear in the river corridor east of Sheep Curve.
Monday - 08 September
40 degrees this morning warming to 53 degrees. Golden eagles and osprey's at Lake Sherburne. A bull moose and two cow moose in Fishercap today. At 8:00 a.m. a large black bear on Sheep Curve. At 8:01 a.m. a second large black bear above the first on Sheep Curve. At 8:35 a.m. the cinnamon black bear sow with two black cubs north of the Hotel. At 3:15 p.m. a grizzly on Grinnell Point.
Tuesday - 09 September
34 degrees and snowing today warming up to a cozy 37 degrees. They closed Logan Pass today, and everything above the road was white. A cow and cow and calf moose in Fishercap Lake today. At 7:15 a.m. a black bear roadside north of Windy Creek. At 7:30 a.m. a silver grizzly in the Avalanche Chute north and west of the Hotel road exit. At 8:40 a.m. a grizzly low on Mt. Wilber. At 9:00 a.m. the cinnamon black bear sow with two black cubs north and east of Sheep Curve. At 2:15 p.m. a small grizzly above Swiftcurrent Inn. At 4:30 p.m. a grizzly on Mt. Wilber. At 4:40 p.m. a large grizzly on Grinnell Point.
Wednesday - 10 September
35 degrees this morning snowing and poor visibility most of the day. A grouse or a Ptarmigan on the road this morning. At 7:30 a.m. a large black bear north and west of Windy Creek. At 4:05 p.m. the cinnamon black bear sow with two black cubs in the Avalanche Chute north and west of the Hotel. At 4:00 p.m. a black bear north of the Hotel in a snow storm, it like the bison in Yellowstone had about 2 inches of snow on its back.
Thursday - 11 September
29 degrees this morning warming up to 43 degrees. We had been seeing 10-12 big horn sheep above the Inn the last couple of weeks, but with the snow cover we had 45-50 sheep there today. A bull moose with a little velvet hanging on him across Lake Sherburne from Windy Creek this morning. At 7:20 a.m. a grizzly high on Mt. Wilber. At 7:50 a.m. a grizzly low on Mt. Wilber. At 8;25 a.m. the cinnamon black bear sow with two black cubs on Sheep Curve 50-60 yards above the road. At 10:15 a.m. a black bear and one black cub about 4 miles north and east of Babb. At 10:30 a.m. a black bear in the same general area as the black bear and cub. At 4:00 p.m. a grizzly on Grinnell Point for about 1 1/2 hours. At 7:15 p.m. a cinnamon black bear and a black bear close together (did not look like a sow and cub/two larger bears) north and east of Babb. At 7:20 p.m. another black bear north and east of Babb, about 1/2 mile south of the other two black bears.
Friday - 12 September
40 degrees this morning warming to a nice 56 degrees. At 8:00 a.m. a dark grizzly above the Swiftcurrent Inn. At 11:30 a.m. the light collared grizzly above the Swiftcurrent Inn. At 4:25 p.m. a large grizzly high on Mt. Wilber. At 6:30 p.m. the cinnamon black bear sow with two black cubs in the river corridor east and south of the road pass the Hotel. At 6:45 p.m. a cinnamon black bear north of Windy Creek spotted by Tom from Minnesota.
Saturday - 13 September
34 degrees warming up to 54 degrees today. A cow moose and a cow moose with one yearling calf in Fishercap Lake; and at dusk three cow moose above and west of the Swiftcurrent Inn. At 7:00 a.m. the cinnamon black bear sow with the two black cubs in the river corridor east of the Hotel. At 8:00 a.m. a grizzly low on Mt. Wilber. At 8:05 a.m. a grizzly in the good low clearing on Mt. Wilber. At 8:30 a.m. a small grizzly on Bullhead Point. At 9:00 a.m. a blond black bear in a low clearing this side of Mt. Wilber. From 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Baby Silver grizzly out 100-200 yards off the road creating a good bear jam. From 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. three separate black bears about 4 miles north and east of Babb.
Sunday - 14 September
30 degrees this morning warming up to 59 degrees. A cow and calf moose, a cow moose and a bull moose in Fishercap Lake today. A large bull moose with a cow and a calf on Grinnell Point in the evening. At 7:05 a.m. a black bear close to the road north of Windy Creek. At 7:10 a.m. Little Silver grizzly just off the road at Windy Creek and creating a bear jam for most of the day today. At 7:45 a.m. a small grizzly on Bullhead Point. At 9:00 a.m. the collared grizzly above Swiftcurrent Inn. At 4:10 p.m. the cinnamon black bear sow with two cubs in the river corridor east of the Hotel. At 7:00 p.m. the blond black bear (grizzly looking) with one dark cub on Grinnell Point. At 7:40 p.m. a dark brown black bear on Grinnell Point. The sow and cub stood up a couple of times and then beat a fast exit to the west. My plans were to leave Glacier this morning, however, John G and John B from Seattle came in to the campground so I stayed a couple of extra days.
Monday - 15 September
33 degrees this morning warming up to 73 degrees. John G and John B and I hiked to the 3rd Switchback beyond Bullhead Lake today. Nice level hike of 4.1 miles one way with great views of the mountains and the three Bullhead Lakes. At 7:00 a.m. a black bear east of Sheep Curve. At 7:30 a.m. a blond black bear with one cub again on Grinnell Point. At 8:10 a.m. the cinnamon black bear with two black cubs on Sheep Curve. Our hike started near 9:00 a.m. and found a large bull moose and cow close to trail in Fishercap Lake. At 9:10 a.m. we found the dark black bear still near the blond black sow with her cub on Grinnell Point. At 11:30 a.m. at the first Switchback beyond Bullhead Lake, a photographer pointed out a large light grizzly 90 yards or so off the trail eating berries. We moved around the corner and discovered it was a little closer from there. It finally crossed the trail behind us and moved downhill. As we took a break enjoying lunch and the great views of the lakes, Blake and Stacie from Pocatello, Idaho met us on the trail. As we left they hollered at us to return, as Stacie had spotted the grizzly near Bullhead Lake. It got to the lake, jumped in for a swim, then sat on its behind and played in the water, before moving out of the water. We headed back but Blake said it reappeared and swam again in the lake and swam across the lake. At 4:30 p.m. a black bear high south of Windy Creek At 5:00 p.m. Baby Silver grizzly road side at Windy Creek. At 5:30 p.m. a light grizzly above the Swiftcurrent Inn. At 7:00 p.m. a light black bear on Grinnell Point.
Tuesday - 16 September
37 degrees this morning warming into the high 60's or low 70's. A great moose day at Fishercap Lake. Around 3:00 p.m. five moose in the lake (cow, cow and yearling calf, another cow and an a large bull). At 6:00 p.m. I returned to have six moose, four of them different then the 3:00 p.m. visit. One cow and the large bull were the same, but had two sets of cow moose with one of this years calf with them. At 7:20 a.m. a large black bear on Sheep Curve. At 7:30 a.m. Baby Silver grizzly at Windy Creek again right off the road. At 7:40 a.m. a 2nd large black bear on Sheep Curve. at 7:45 a.m. the cinnamon black bear sow with two black cubs on Sheep Curve. At 8:15 a.m. a blond or light silver grizzly above the Swiftcurrent Inn. At 11:30 a.m. a large brown black bear north of the road just outside the Many Glacier Entrance Station. At 2:15 p.m. the blond black bear (grizzly looking) with one dark cub on Grinnell Point. At 7:30 p.m. the large dark black bear on Grinnell Point not too far away from the black sow and cub.
Beaver, bats, tree squirrels, chipmunks (included a black one which Jeremy S and I viewed on the Red Rock Lake trail--Jeremy is going to school at Montana and checked with a small mammal lecturer who told him that melanistic chipmunks have been recorded recently in the Many Glacier area), Columbia and golden-mantled ground squirrels, a hoary Marmot, pikas, fox, coyotes, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mule deer, white tailed deer, elk, moose, black and grizzly bears.
People seen on this trip that I knew from Yellowstone: From Montana: Ralph N, Steve G, Steve B, Jack G, Ken and Marilyn, Don from Helena, Lauri D, Doug M, and Margaret L. From Washington: John G, John B, Froam & and Judy. From Colorado: Jeremy S. From Idaho: Blake and Stacie. Others: Bob A and Steve S, Shari and Kate.
People seen that I know from Glacier: from Montana: Steve and Charotte H, Ron and Dorothy V, Tim R and Joseph. From Minnesota: Kevin and Barb B, Tom and Jane G. From Kansas: Kim and Betsy R. From Wisconsin: Jim and Karen and Paul and Jackie. From Kentucky: Ron. From Canada Bob and Cheryl C. and from Arkansas Mike and Kay.
Guides on the Ice Berg Lake hike: Kim and Betsy R and Kevin and Barb B. To my Sherpa and guide Doug M. for the Piegan Pass to Grinnell Trailhead Hike. And to my guides John G and John B for the hike to the switchbacks beyond Bullhead Lake. I truly would not have done those hikes without the support and encouragement they gave me. Next year the Ptarmigan Tunnel!
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