"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

Monday, May 2, 2011

Grizzly Bear X 3 and Sylvan Pass

Driving from Livingston to the Park's north entrance can be a driving obstacle course.  There are large herds of deer, elk, bison and bighorn sheep next to and on the roadway.  The area by Dome Mountain is especially treacherous as huge herds of elk congregate in that area in the evening.  I found these two bighorn sheep on the road in Yankee Jim Canyon along with several others who would bound over the guardrail and cross the road.  Just north of Gardiner elk and bison graze on the sides of the road as  strings of vehicles in front of me gleam red with their brake lights blazing as they pass the herds.
Coming back from my Saturday trip to Bozeman on I made a quick stop at the Adventure Store before continuing on the Lake.  I finally got a glimpse of the fox who has been leaving its prints in the snow in front of, around and on top of the store.  He made a quick glance my direction before heading up our snow corridor to the front of the store. 

I swung into the Mud Volcano area where I found a coyote standing in the parking lot.  He was rather agitated and his hair stood straight up on his back.  He looked intently up the hillside.  My eyes followed in the direction of his stare and I saw a second coyote sitting on the hill.  Then I noticed a third coyote weaving between the posts below the boardwalk.  The two finally trotted off behind the steam of the thermal feature and disappeared from sight, the one sporting his spiking fur coat.

And with my day filled with wildlife close encounters (all encountered from the comfy interior of my vehicle) I was completely thrilled to have it close with one last wildlife viewing........my first grizzly bear sighting for 2011.  Just past Mud Volcano I watched as this grizzly nibbled on something and then wandered around.  Dusk was approaching so its viability was limited but I was excited none the less.
Sunday Patrick and I made our first trip over Sylvan Pass in a vehicle for 2011.  Our last trip over was in January and it entailed a snowmobile ride. 

The walls of snow were rather high and it can be a very intimidating feeling to look up the mountainside and see the thick layer of snow above all the while hoping that  wasn't going be the moment that it would all start sliding down. 

While most of the pass has been plowed to a two lane width there is a section that is only one lane wide.  It is on a curvy section and as we drove we hoped that we wouldn't come upon another vehicle heading in the opposite direction.  Someone would be backing up a very long ways.  We saw no one.

And how does someone end a nice weekend in Yellowstone (that someone being me)?  You see more wildlife.  This morning at 6:00, just south of Mud Volcano, I came across three grizzly bears eating a bison carcass.  One would eat while two others stood off in the distance.  Suddenly one of them ran forward and chased off the feasting bear. 

The second one chewed and gnawed and ripped and gulped for awhile and finally got himself a nice hunk of bison and ran off up the hill with it.  That is when I also happened to notice that two coyotes were also lurking in the trees waiting for their turn at the carcass.