We headed for Lamar Valley again for wildlife. Early, before sunrise we saw a healthy wolf cross the road in front of us. We were able to get some grab shots before it gave us the rear view. Regrettably I was not successful in getting a good photograph. I was shooting through the car open window and did not have the camera ready for such an encounter. We got some early morning light on a close bison near a rest area. Lamar Valley and the bison herd were awaiting in frosty conditions. The bison had frost on their shoulders and back. The lupine also had frost.
A really exciting incident was the confrontation between a coyote and a pronghorn. It started with the coyote chasing the pronghorn, and quickly the tables were turned and the coyote was being chased by the pronghorn!
We continued to follow the herd for awhile before heading toward Cooke City, MT in search o moose. Evemtualy we did see one but she was hiding in the shadows of evergreen trees and was very hard to see or follow. There was also a one year old moose with her.
Breakfast was in Cooke City. It was good fare. Back on the road we started our return to Mammoth Hot Springs. Along the way we saw three bighorn sheep close by and actually running through the sagebrush.
Then we saw our third black bear who was out in the open. We had a good opportunity there. While there one of our party, Jenni, left her point and shoot beside a rock, and did not realize it until we were back on the road. We were headed for home when her friend called on the radio about it. We in Mark’s car told them to continue on and we would go back for it. Mark had seen it by a rock Jenni had been sitting on. It was right there when we got there, and the bear “jam” was over.
Had time for a 30 minute nap back at the Hotel before heading back out for the evening. First we went to dinner once again in Gardiner at the Cowboy Grille. This evening we visited the Norris Geyser Basin, and Steamboat Geyser in particular. Along the way we were delayed as they are doing road construction and it was one-way traffic with a pilot car. Steamboat Geyser gives out the tallest plume when it erupts, but it is very irratic in it’s eruptions. Beside the boardwalk there was a snowshoe hare posing for us. This was a new species for me.
One of our goals this evening was to see and photograph a grizzly bear. We did not find any activity or a bear where it had been sighted the last couple of days. Two thirds of the group opted to return to the Hotel while three of us decided to wait out a possible sunset. We were duly rewarded with a very nice one which gave color all around us. It was a delightful way to end a love day.
Friday, 6 June: Off to find and photograph wildlife this morning as the chances for a sunrise were poor. We were off before dawn in search of black bear and whatever else we could find. About ten miles down the road to Lamar Valley we were able to do a close up of a buffalo who was hanging out at Tower Junction. We then found a black bear that we had seen yesterday and photographed her/him. We searched Lamar Valley for bear,coyote, wolf, etc, but to no avail. During our roving for animals we were able to spot and photograph a pronghorn with its reflection in a small pond, and some wildflowers.
|Mammoth Hot Springs|
|A Lone Lupine|
|Bison with Rider|
|Proghorn and Reflection|
|Lamar Valley Stream|
|Riding the Trail|
It was fun to experiment and photograph with a wide angle lens with flowers less than a foot from the lens. Near the wildflower shoot of arrowleaf balsamroot we also saw and photographed some landscape with a group of horseback riders on the slopes.
The evening was spent photographing a black bear sow with three cubs. It was great fun to watch them, but the photographs may not be particularly good due to distance and lighting. The minimum ISO on these was 1250 and went as high as 2500! We are planning on returning to them early tomorrow morning when we should be able to get them with few other photographers around.
Saturday, 7 June: We were packed and on the road by 0530. We went immediately to where we had seen the black bear and cubs last night. It was a good call because we found them with little trouble. We photographed them for about 3 hours. On the way back to the Hotel we stopped to take pictures of fog in one of the valleys. It was really fun to do, and you could easily make black and white images from the scene.
|A Good Back Scratch|
|What Did You Say?|
|Rainbow Below Falls|
|A Roaring River|
|Promise of Things to Come|
On our way to Canyon Village where we will spend two nights we again checked on the black bear family. By this time the rangers were out as well of lots of other people. As there was not too much of a good opportunity, we left them after about an hour, and headed for grizzly bear country.
We spent the afternoon trolling Hayden Valley, and other areas for grizzlies. Finally at a bear jam we were able to see one a good ⅓ mile away as it went over the far ridge. We had missed an opportunity as it had earlier crossed the road after swimming a small lake or stream. That was all we saw of grizzlies today even though we went out again after dinner for about two plus hours. We did get a chance to see an quickly photograph a coyote who actually crossed the road right in front of us.
Had dinner with Doug at the Canyon Lodge Cafeteria. Doug has been working in the Park for 25 years doing summer wildlife tours for Xanterra, and winter tours. It is with the winter tours, that Mark got to know him, and had requested him for all of his winter trips. We learned a bit of why we were not seeing many bears as the Park Service is pushing them out into the true wilderness more.