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.

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