Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bear Weekend Continues

Rangers chased this black bear away from a lawn next to our dorm.

Over the hill and off to the wild, to the trail it was too snowy and muddy for me to hike today. Maybe I'll see this bear next time I get up there.

The new snow looked pretty on Mt Everts.

The flashing sign warning that the road ahead remained closed for the second day. I'm hoping most of that snow on Bunsen Peak melts in time for our moonlight hike in a couple weeks.

Took an evening walk and found two of the thousands of species of birds I can't identify.

And happened upon my roommate and a bunch of other folks watching the bear who had killed the elk calf last night and another one this morning. The bear was behind a tree on a dark wooded hillside and even more unphotographable for me than last night. I have a blurry silhouette of bear ears.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bears, Wolves, Ravens

Today I went to the town of West Yellowstone to visit the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center. At times, it was a blizzard out there.

After taking photos, I wandered around semi-civilization and bought a book and a t-shirt, and had lunch at a Chinese restaurant which I'd never return to if it was in Boston or even Duluth, but after months of park cafeteria food, it wasn't bad at all.

Ravens in the snow.

Bear tongue.

Wolf tongue.

I'm trying to see--you're right in my way.

Photographic evidence that the rumor that grizzlies can't climb trees is false. Click on the photo and take a look at the claws curled around the tree branch.

The melon tree.

Raven with a chunk of apple.

Hmmm, I wonder what's under this rock? Again, check out the claws.

I always let sleeping wolves lie. Clicking on this photo shows the melted snow on the fur.

On the way back, we encountered the not unusual half dozen bison walking down the road in the other direction. The line of cars behind them continued as we rounded curves--at least half a mile. This is why we tell people that driving twenty miles in Yellowstone can take an hour.

A pretty good shot of Rustic Falls coming up considering it was taken through the window of a moving vehicle. Unfortunately, I didn't have that kind of luck with either of the grizzlies (one crossing the road, the other digging up the ground) or the black bear on a snowy wooded hillside we saw on the way back to Mammoth, but they were all great experiences anyway. It's much better to see wild bears than caged bears, even when they were caged as the only alternative to death.

But the fun didn't end there. I went to the rec office and signed up for a couple June trips: a late night moonlight climb of Bunsen Peak (the mountain often seen in my snowy Mammoth shots), and whitewater rafting on the Gallatin River. I ordered a headlamp in case the moonlight doesn't cooperate.

At dinner I heard that a rock slide has closed the road eight miles east of Mammoth. Check out the news release which includes snow totals of up to two feet from our latest storm. Add this to the avalanches, the snow-damaged buildings, the several delayed road openings, Friday's NPR comment that if you're coming to Yellowstone "bring your snowshoes", the floods in areas surrounding the park, and it's quite a dramatic season to be here. No 1988 fires, but still an impressive display.

One of the t-shirts today was tempting--Advice from a Buffalo including such lines as Stand your ground, Keep moving on, Cherish wide open spaces, Roam wild and free, and Let the chips fall where they may. But I wanted it to say Bison, not Buffalo. A search tonight found that one along with a great graphic of Squirrels for Peace.

While writing this, my roommate came in to ask if I wanted to take a walk as he'd heard that a black bear had killed an elk calf on the far side of the fort area. As we walked there, two women from the dorm were heading there by car and gave us a ride. We found an elk cow walking around restlessly and then my roommate spotted a bear down the hill. Too dark to get a good shot but there's a bear in those woods. I'll check out the site again tomorrow, as well as doing Beaver Ponds Trail again if it's not too rainy.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Abstracts, Still Lifes, and Bears

The first stop on today's too rushed trip was Norris Geyser Basin, a spot I'd enjoyed a couple times last year.

At Old Faithful I was disappointed despite the longest OF eruption I've seen--geysers don't do that much for me. I was searching for some steer's head flowers I'd been told were blooming near the Inn. I walked all around the building and didn't spot them so I went in and asked a ranger who knew the flower I meant and told me where he'd seen them before although he hadn't spotted them this year. So I went back and searched that area again with no better luck.

On the return trip, we made unplanned stops at Biscuit and Midway Basins, two places I hadn't made it to last year. I hope I'll get back again this year because it would be easy to spend hours taking photos at these locations.

After getting back, I took a walk by the terraces.

Close to the end of our return trip, a few miles from Mammoth near Bunsen Peak, we saw some grizzlies by the side of the road. The driver didn't stop so I only had time for a couple quick photos through the window. I'll show you both even though the better view is blurry.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hellroaring Creek Trail

Thursday evening a dozen of us headed out for a short hike. Come along if you like.

We weren't actually going as far as Hellroaring Creek, only down to the Yellowstone River and back up the hill.

As the sign said, we were entering bear country.

But all of the Yellowstone area is bear country, and we didn't see that bear while hiking but through van windows on our way to the hike. But there is an interesting bear story closer to home--a cinnamon black bear with two cubs has been seen on the hills above Mammoth in recent weeks. Today I heard from the eyewitnesses that one of the cubs had died somehow and that mom and the other cub were seen and heard and photographed eating the body. Those photos will be early favorites for winning the photography contest this summer.

Here's a view of the Yellowstone River during our descent.

Along the trail were many pasqueflowers.

The trail has a bridge over the Yellowstone which was as far as we were going. Here's a view from that bridge.

And a small falls below the bridge.

And a view of the bridge itself. Pretty impressive structure to see on a trail. I don't think anyone's going to be building another trail bridge like this any time soon.

There were other flowers along the way such as this balsamroot.

But as many photos as I take of shooting stars, I can't seem to get one in focus which is a shame because they're beautiful flowers. Google them and insert an image here.

One last look back as we get near the top of the steep hill and head into the woods for the rest of the climb.

Tomorrow I'm off to Norris Geyser Basin and Old Faithful. But it may be raining. Or snowing.