"There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Plowing to Begin

The spring plowing is to get underway tomorrow morning, March 7.  In the maintenance area the plows are lined up and ready to start this task.  Patrick and I had planned on snowmobiling to Lake yesterday but with the arrival of new snow it was decided that we wouldn't go.  This is the last weekend that we would be able to check on his apartment, now it will be about 3 weeks before we will be able to get there.  My next trip to Canyon will be via a car.  Though I may be facing a couple more months of snow we know spring is right around the corner once those plows start moving south from Mammoth. 
 The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel will be closing tomorrow, this being the last night of guests staying the night.  It will once again be quiet in Mammoth with only a few visitors roaming the roads of YNP.  The winter season is coming to a close.


Though the day started of with flurries they eventually stopped.  We decided to take an afternoon trip to Lamar.  There were the usual bison on the Blacktail.  This bison had leaped across snowbank and found itself on a ledge above the road.  It paced back and forth deciding its next move and for awhile I thought I might see him tumble back down onto the road.  He eventually found his way up the hillside but had to use great effort to reach the top.

Further on we came across this bull elk slowly wandering down the road.  He was unconcerned about any passing vehicles.  He moved very deliberately and at a snails pace.  The winter had taken a toll on him and it was apparent he was very weak.

I took one quick photo as we passed him.  His eyes seem to tell the story of how difficult the winter has been on him.  As we left him in our rear view mirror we were quite certain that he may not survive to see the spring.  We did see him on our return about 1 1/2 hours later.  He had only walked 1/4 of a mile.

Most of the wildlife I have seen these past few weeks I saw grazing on the south facing slopes or in the tree lines where the snow is not as deep.  Open areas have very few, if any, tracks of animals that had passed through the area to graze.  Some of the hillsides have little snow from the wind blowing it away.  There are many animals competing for these open areas.  Though I have come accustomed to seeing thin animals there are still many that are in good condition and making it through this winter just fine.  

I have been seeing a small herd of bison by the hitching posts in Lamar.  This fella was right off from the road grazing on some vegetation that stuck above the snow.  But this picture shows how deep the snow is.  It must be terribly difficult to try and move through the snow and swing their massive heads to clear it away.

And of course the four bighorns were still in their usual location across from the hitching posts.  I enjoy seeing them.