DAY ONE, Friday, June 13
I am off for my second Yellowstone visit this summer. I manage to leave around 5PM. Itís a very pleasant 63 degrees, raining lightly.
When I get to the pass itís sunny and there is still a good deal of snow on Pyramid and Pointy Head. I am delighted to confirm that these are, in fact, the same peaks I see from my back balcony.
I have an easy drive but when I near Gardiner I see traffic up ahead. Aha! Itís the Gardiner Rodeo. Wow itís jammed! Cars lining both sides of the street, blocking everything and cowboys everywhere.
Itís extremely windy, too, and it already looks dryer than when I was here a week ago.
I see 2 bighorn ewes, each with a lamb in the canyon, where I run into Marlene. She tells me there will be a lunch before the event for Doug Smith on Wednesday. I offer to bring something but she says no. So I offer a donation and she says yes.
There are fisherman in the Gardiner River which seems early to me, but what do I know? I watch elk in the Mammoth Campground area while I talk with Allison. The wind has kicked up a lot of dust.
At Blacktail Ponds I notice the two ponds are still connected (one big pond, I mean). I donít see any bison until I get to Tower. I guess they are all in Little America and Lamar. There is a small herd of cows and calves at Junction Butte.
Lamar looks really beautiful at golden hour. I stop at Fishermanís to check the location of the carcass Iíve heard about. Yep, there it is.
As I return to my car I see a badger waddling across the road. He disappears into a hole on the south side.
I drive to Coyote and talk to a couple who are watching the carcass through their scope. She says there was a bear on it this morning. They are hoping wolves will come soon.
I decide to keep going rather than arrive in Silver Gate too late. I donít like to keep my hosts waiting!
Rose Creek looks gorgeous winding through the flats. Many swallows are diving for bugs above it, putting on a show. There are bison all over and I watch some pronghorn chasing each other Ė looks like a family dispute. No coyotes or fawns visible, just adults chasing each other.
I pull in at Footbridge and see a pronghorn out in the flats. But I notice several people looking intently to the south. Something tells me they are not that excited about a pronghorn. I lift my binocs and see Big Gray! Yay!
He is wandering along the base of DPH, east to west. He goes up one level, then down and out of sight, as if heading to 21ís crossing. Lots of people leave to go to HP. I stay here and find him in the flats. He crosses the river and the current looks strong. He crosses safely to the north. The people here were good and stayed in the lot instead of trying to get closer. Yay for that, too!
I train my scope on the skyline of Norris and find an elk cow with her calf. They stay there a while, then go down the slope and into the trees.
Itís windy again. So Iím gonna be late after all, but for a good reason. I get there at 9:30 with a good tale to tell.
Today I saw: a badger, bison, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, swallows, 1 wolf (Lamar Canyon alpha, 925M) and the spirit of Allison.