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Yellowstone National Park 2019 Trip Reports

Trip Report ~ by John William Uhler

19 April 2019 - Yellowstone National Park

Boulder Pond in Little America taken Spring 2019 in Yellowstone © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

~ April 2019 ~

West Entrance taken Spring 2019 © Copyright John William Uhler All Rights Reserved

Friday - April 19th

I have been excited with cabin fever since January anticipating opening day, Friday, April 19th, 2019. It has been a long snowy cold winter and I was past ready for spring and nice warm weather.

Thursday came and I had everything checked and planned out and the days food bought and packed and ready to go. To bed early and up at 5:00 am. Car packed with gear and food, and ready to go. The crew for this trip was just me as Carlene had to stay due to circumstances with her work. She would have much rather been with me enjoying a beautiful spring day in Parkadise enjoying friends, wildlife and the beauty of Yellowstone.

At 6:45 I am in the car heading north to Yellowstone's west entrance that opens at 8:00 am for the 2019 season. It is a cold 35 degrees in Rexburg this morning. It is about 83 miles from my home to the west entrance. Traffic is light but more than the usual for opening day. I think because of the holiday weekend there are a lot of great folks ready to celebrate opening day.

There were a pair of sand hill cranes on the frozen pond wildlife viewing area north of the Ashton hill. I did not see much wildlife other than those two until I entered the park.

Yellowstone Cinnamon Bear taken Spring 2019 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

I arrived at the park at 8:15 AM and there was an unexpected large number of cars waiting in line to get into Yellowstone. The line of cars was almost all the way back to visitor center parking lot. At 8:50 AM I am back home again and excite as ever to be back in Parkadise. It had warmed up to 43 degrees and that was a nice surprise as it is usually cooler than Rexburg. I head in and there were not a lot of cars or traffic on the road until the construction area north of the Norris Geyser Basin area. There were trumpeter swans and geese and ducks on the Madison River. The eagle nest is gone. There were two herds of buffalo in the wildlife viewing area just west of the Madison Campgrounds / Madison Junction.

There were a few small herds of buffalo in the meadows along the drive to Norris. There was a small group of visitors watching a grizzly bear just off the road by Nymph Lake.

I arrived at the construction area north of Norris and waited for about 20 minutes for the lead truck to arrive with all the folks headed south. It is about a 5 mile drive on dirt road through the construction.

Some buffalo were in the meadows and on the road on the drive after the construction zone. Not much traffic or other wildlife seen on the drive from Norris to Roosevelt. It was a nice easy drive, not in any hurry.

Yellowstone Moose taken Spring 2019 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

At 11:03 AM my first dog of the day was a coyote headed west along the road just before the Yellowstone River bridge east of Roosevelt. He was headed west and I was headed east towards Lamar Valley. There was a large number of buffalo in Little America and it was great to see them scattered along the hills and dales. What a magnificent animal that survives the very harsh winter weather conditions of Yellowstone. They are just amazing is about all I can say.

I arrive at the Slough Creek campground road and pull in and park. Folks are along the road with binocs and spotting scopes pointed to the mountains to the north. I grab my scope and join in the fun. I chatted with the folks to find out what was going on and who had seen what and where. A father and daughter from Billings, Montana said that a black wolf had been seen on the ridgetop but had headed back over the ridge and out of sight. They along with the other folks were hoping that the wolves would come back into view and head to the Sage den site. A female wolf had been seen going into the den and had not come back out. The though was that she had gone into the den and had had pups. No one had seen any pups yet as it is too early for them to be out if they were just born. None the less folks were excited for the possibility of another season of wolf watching. I was told that folks had seen five bull moose at the Footbridge pullout earlier this morning. I am excited to see them. It has been rarer to see moose in the park than bears and wolves. I am hoping that they are still hanging around.

I stayed for quite a while watching the mountain side and den sight but with no luck. I then headed east towards Lamar Valley. Part way up Slough Canyon I met Bill Hamblin. We chatted while in a pullout and he confirmed about the female being in the den and that the thinking was that she was possibly in to have her pups. Bill had seen one grizzly bear earlier this morning and nothing since then.

I left Bill in the canyon and head east towards Lamar. There are buffalo out on the hill but not a lot of them. It seems most of them are west of Lamar in Little America. Maybe better food and less snow. While talking with Bill I notice a car go by with a "Yellowstone Up Close & Personal" decal pass by. The roads are all dry and clear and it is a beautiful sunny warm day, 63 degrees in Lamar Valley. I head east towards the Footbridge pullout hoping to see moose.

Yellowstone Raven on the Soda Butte Cone taken Spring 2019 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

I arrive at the Footbridge pullout and get out my spotting scope and start scanning the hillside. I notice the car with the decal and I ask them if they had seen the moose. They tell me that they have and that they are in the willow brush across the valley. They get out of their car and show me where the moose are located. I spot three of the five eating in the willows. It is great to see them back in the park. We watch them and chat. I ask them about the decal and yes they are members of the Facebook group and are from Billings, Montana. They are a confirmed pair of Yellowstone lovers and visit every month of the year. It is nice to meet another couple of Yellowstone addicts!

Finally one of the bull moose moves out of the willows and lays in the snow along the bank. He is a big boy and I hope to see him with full paddles this year along with the others. That would be a thrill. Another couple from Bozeman, Montana comes down and views the moose through my spotting scope. They are amazed at how big this guy is. After watching and chatting for over an hour I decided I was going to head back west to see what else may be visible in the valley.

A little past the confluence Bill and I pass. I noticed he put his brakes on so I pull into the next pullout. He turns around and pulls up besides me and we just relax and chat about old friends, wildlife watchers, and the passing of life. Bill and I met in 1995 in Lamar Valley and places nearby. I have been sharing Bill's trip reports as well as mine since that time. We have met and made a lot of friends along the way and share some wonderful times in Yellowstone all to be remember fondly. The moments our lives are made from. We chat and smile and laugh and get sad with the passing of friends and some of their struggles. It was heart touching.

Yellowstone Red Fox taken Spring 2019 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

We then depart, Bill headed east to meet a friend and try to find some bears. I head west to try to find other wildlife and friends. A very nice looking bald eagle was flying low over the hills on the north side of the road. No one was at Slough Creek looking for wolves so I decide to head to boulder pullout to see if the muskrats are out and about that Bill had told me about. What a beautiful day, 69 degrees in Little America as I pull into boulder pullout and get out my camera and wait and watch and listen. No muskrats but I love this area with the little glacial ponds and rocks so I enjoy taking some photos. Some long time friend Scott and Kristine Berret pass the pullout and then back up and pull in. It has been a few years since we had last seen each other although we stay somewhat in touch through Facebook. They are looking good and are spending the weekend wandering Parkadise and relaxing and destressing from the vicissitudes and trials of life. It is great to see them and chat and visit. Scott and I met through an old college friend of mine, John Van Wart. John found me on the net through my old Yellowstone website, The Total Yellowstone Page. He (John) recognize my humor and sent me an email and we got back in touch. John and Scott and their daughters came and stayed with us in our home in Gardiner, Montana and renewed old and new friendships. Scott and I were both thinking of John who had passed away way too young from cancer. We miss him and all the fun times, and John was Scott's full-time fishing buddy. They shared some fantastic fishing experiences in Yellowstone and elsewhere. John you are missed of thought of often!

We parted company planning on getting together in Island Park and Yellowstone. I head west and Scott and Kristine head east. At about 3:00 PM a little east of the Yellowstone River picnic area there are folks pulled over with scopes and cameras pointing into the trees. I park and get out and join the gang. We have a cinnamon black bear lying down by some trees almost invisible. We take pictures and chat. Some of the group had seen this bear out earlier. Some had seen it the day before with another cinnamon bear playing together and palling around. This was my first bear of the 2019 season. Yeah!

Yellowstone Red Fox mousing taken Spring 2019 ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

I forgot to mention that I did see elk browsing around the Mammoth Terraces. They are starting to lose their winter coats. I also saw two sand hill cranes and Canada geese on Blacktail Ponds. I also saw Unita Squirrels and chipmunks along the way along with a raven or two. I looked for red dogs (buffalo calves), but did not see any. Spring is such a great time to be in the park. My favorite season of all.

I head west and south to see what I can see and enjoy. Just a little ways past the construction zone and north of the Norris Geyser area there are a number of cars pulled over and folks out with scopes and cameras. I decide to pull in and join the fun. I notice a "Yellowstone Up Close & Personal" decal on a car I am walking by and a young lady getting out. I ask what they are watching and she says that they had just arrived and wasn't sure. We walk down and join the group watching a beautiful red fox. It was mousing just looking for food. I mentioned their decal and she says you do look familiar. We chat about the group and Bonnie introduces me to her husband Tony. We had a great chat about Parkadise. Tony worked in 2017 at the Albright Visitor Center in Mammoth and had the time of his life working in Parkadise. We had a great chat and Bonnie said that she had met another person with the YUCAP decal and asked if they had seen me. They told her that they hadn't. Just then, we noticed a black Audi pulling in and drive up closer. It was one of the moderators who helps with my Facebook group, Teri Hillyard Ehresman and Ron Ehresman. We hugged and chatted and were glad we had finally run into each other. We had been working together for a couple years on the Facebook group and if was so nice to finally meet in person. All the moderators are such a great help and do a fantastic job helping! I appreciate them all!

We reluctantly parted company after a fun meet up and sharing fox and other wildlife watching! I slowly head south and west to my home away from home. Until next time my friends, take care, enjoy your family and loved ones! Enjoy the journey!

Yellowstone Red Fox mousing ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

Yellowstone Moose ~ © Copyright All Rights Reserved John William Uhler

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