DAY ONE - Tuesday, October 11

PEACE AND QUIET

I leave for the Park around 8:30 AM with a plan to meet Jackie in Livingston for second breakfast.

Bozeman had a heavy wet snowfall overnight. It looks like a few inches. The roads are already treated but you never know about the pass.

Many trees still have leaves and the weight of snow makes them bend dramatically. This is not skiing snow. Ugh, the bridges are totally iced over. I try just going 50 and it feels too fast but trucks get annoyed with me and pass, tossing slush. I stay behind a truck as it goes up the hill but then it started to shimmy.

Yikes! I think he may have hit the accelerator on ice. I slow down but stay behind him.

I just donít feel comfortable on the highway so I get off at Jackson Creek and take the frontage road the rest of the way. Itís plowed but still snowy and there is a bit of ice. But thereís no traffic so I can go as slowly as I want.

Livingston is full of snow! I meet Jackie at a cool place called Gils. Very casual, bare bones Livingston style breakfast spot. I meet her sis Diane and her husband Ron. Phil cannot join us because he is working.

We have a great time. Now Iím on the road again. The sky is still gray but the snow turns to rain once I pass get to East River Road. It gets warmer and dryer as I go. Hmm. I would have expected the opposite!

Itís lovely to see golden aspen against the dark green snow-flocked conifers.

My car is a Jeep Cherokee, which sounds big but itís actually on the smaller side. It has heated seats and a heated steering wheel which I think is really nice.

I have an easy drive. As I pass the Gardiner airport I see elk grazing on both sides. There are more elk all over the Mammoth campground. I have my chat with Allison and head up the hill.

I check in with Laurie by phone and find out the Prospect Peak wolves were seen today way up on Specimen from Dorothyís. She says they did not have them long as visibility was poor so she and Pauline have already gone in for the day. I am looking forward to seeing Pauline, a wolf watcher friend from the Netherlands. She usually visits during breeding season, and since I cannot be away from NY then, I have not seen her since 2003.

There is construction going on at the Mammoth Hotel so itís closed, which means less people overall. There is a very pretty dusting of snow on Mt. Everts & the rocky areas up there. But no snow on the road. Yay!

Itís 31 degrees here.

I have a very easy drive east through a vastly empty Park. Boy, itís just such a change from my last visit in summer.

There are several bighorns in the meadow north of Yellowstone Picnic, and some pronghorn at both Boulder and at Crystal.

No one parked at Slough so I keep going. The color in the willows between Confluence & Hitching post are the prettiest Iíve ever seen them. Wow. Subtle and nice.

The sky has clouded up again and Iím having snow flurries.

I stop at Warm Creek to watch a bedded moose. Very nice.

I arrive in Silver Gate and visit with Laurie and Pauline. We express our concern about the Lamars.

Whatever pups they may have had in spring did not survive. We never saw any. Then one by one, all their males (originally from Prospect Peak Pack) died of one thing or another. The two remaining females have attracted a new group of males, three good looking blacks from Wyomingís Beartooth pack. But the re-constituted pack is rarely seen, and when they are, the females are still scratching. It seems like mange will not leave them alone.

Laurie thinks 926 and Little T are smart enough to follow these males in order to survive, even if it means leaving Lamar Valley. There are almost no elk here anyway, so what can they eat in the fall?

There has been some development around Nateís book. The film rights were sold to Leonardo DeCaprioís production company (we like this because he is a bit of an environmentalist). Warner Bros is now involved (I am not particularly happy about that) and a screenwriter has been assigned. He is coming to Yellowstone for a visit this very week. I wonder what an LA guy will think of this heavy snow?

I talk to Rick about the screenwriter. He apparently has assured Rick that his work would not be like ďThe GrayĒ (which, in my opinion, was a really stupid piece of anti-wolf, preposterous story.) I try to advise him regarding the little bit I know of Hollywood-style screenwriters.

Once Iím settled in I decide to head out for a short evening session. I drive as far as the Institute. I scope the skyline, the treeline and the line of the river. I find bison and two bull elk up high. There are still pronghorn in the valley but not as many.

Itís quiet. An empty park full of beauty is just what I need right now.

On my way back I enjoy how the sun lights up a patchwork of areas on the mountainsides. Itís just gorgeous. Thank you Yellowstone!

Today I saw: bison, elk, pronghorn, a moose and the spirit of Alison.

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