"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

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lone Wolf

Wolf by Canyon
 I travel through the Park on a regular basis.  I drive from Mammoth to Lake, when I am able, in the evenings.  Yesterday evening I managed to drive through four bear jams.  I have now seen a grizzly just south of Roaring Mountain twice this past week.  I've had a clear view of it both times but I never managed to get a photo as I had to maneuver between cars and pedestrians.  Jams of any sort can be a dangerous situation as many people are focused on the bear/bison/etc. instead of where they are walking or driving (or opening their car doors). 
 On my way back to Mammoth in the mornings are delightful.  I leave Lake at 5:15 am and I usually have the road to myself......except for Tuesday morning.  As I drove west from Canyon Jct. I noticed something dark in the road ahead of me.  To be truthful I momentarily though of a leggy goat that I once had named Elmer but this leggy creature was actually a wolf.  It would not leave the roadway so I pulled off the roadway  and watched it pass my car.  I had my window open and I could actually hear its nails tip tapping on the pavement. Just past my car it left the roadway and I watched it wade through the snow and off into the woods.  It was just the leggy wolf and myself.  I thought about how thousands of people travel thousands of miles to watch a wolf through their spotting scopes. 
My day of wildlife was not over.  I newborn elk calf was wobbling around with its mother behind the store.  It was a definite "aaaaah" moment.  But earlier this week a bear took down an elk calf across from the store.  I also have seen baby sheep on my way to and from Gardiner. 

The weather has vastly improved these past couple of days.  The snowfall in Mammoth has been replaced by sunny skies and 70 degree temps.  It is a glorious feeling to soak up those rays.  It is hard to believe that it was snowing just two days ago.  The rock slide between Mammoth and Tower has created problems for those driving through the Park, especially those having business on the other side.  But it should be open for regular travel within a couple days.  The rivers are swollen and flowing fast because of the snowmelt at the higher elevations.  It has been a long spring.