Yellowstone & Tetons June 8-13

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Yellowstone & Tetons June 8-13

Post by YNPjeepers »

Traveled up through the Tetons on Monday hoping to see 399 and cubs but no luck. We did however see plenty of orange cones for no parking in 3 separate areas where bears are regularly being seen, although none of them visible during our time there. In Yellowstone there wasn't much happening the first two days, except beautiful scenery and peace and quiet! There were very few people and cars these two days. It was quite nice actually. A coyote in Swan Lake Flats, 3 foxes and a beautiful Bluebird with a deeper blue color than I've seen before. Gorgeous! Also a fairly young Moose next to the creek just outside of the NE entrance. As usual, Mountain Goats on the cliffs, plenty of Antelope, Elk and of course Bison with a few new red dogs (by the end of our stay there would be many red dogs) everywhere.

Wednesday - there was a black Bear where Dorothy mentioned the "Bear hammock" in her post. Two young Moose just outside the NE entrance. We spotted them on the hillside close to where the single Moose was the day before. We drove up the road a bit to turn around and they walked down onto the road. They ambled down the road a ways as we followed at a distance then stepped down near the creek. Cool to watch. At the large meadow west of Barronette pullout area there were two big bull Moose and their antlers were already good sized for the time of year. A man told us they were 1710 and 1712. They had been seen there several times by people in the small crowd but we didn't see them again. A grizzly sow and two yearlings way up on the north hillside of the Lamar Valley and a black bear with two cubs in the same "Bear hammock" area. Probably the same one we saw earlier in the day but without the cubs. Another grizzly, 3 more black bears and 2 cubs in places like Phantom Lake and Ice box.

Thursday - An Osprey on the nest in Lamar Canyon, a coyote (which some folks were calling a wolf as they drove off). Up at the previously mentioned meadow (with the 2 bull Moose) we found a cow Moose with two of the CUTEST little calves you could ever hope to see! Well hidden, they were bedded down in the trees in the center of the meadow and we waited about a half hour before she decided to come out. We were near the upper pullout and they walked towards us and mom browsed a little bit below us before moving on. The little ones were walking slowly but close behind her. The first one was so funny as it was stepping very high with it's front legs even though mom and sibling were not. Not sure if it didn't like the surface it was walking on or still getting used to the legs. There were two things I really wanted to see on this trip...Twin Moose calves (which I had never seen before) and 399 with her quads. Well these Moose calves just made the whole trip worth it! One more black bear with a cub before the days end.

Friday - 2 black bears at Pebble Creek Campground. At Hitching Post there was a large crowd. A grizzly and two tiny cubs were on the other side of the river trying to find a place to cross in our direction. But some in the crowd were so intent on getting the best possible photo they crowded into the "keep out-restoration" area and just walked along the top of the hill directly across from the bears blocking the rest of us from any photos. The mother was clearly agitated and since she wasn't being allowed a safe path to cross, she led the cubs away from the river and more east of the area. We decided to go up to the next pullout and were able to watch them easily from there. She meandered through the sage, back and forth, sniffing the air occasionally. A kind lady let us look at them through her scope. She told us that the previous night a big young boar had taken down an elk calf, and dragged it up the hillside behind the trees a ways back. After feeding this morning he went to take a nap in the trees at the base of the hill. We thought things might get a little dramatic since the mom was right there in that area still trying to track down the smell. She made her way up the hill and eventually found the area where the boar had dragged it. We could just barely see her with our binoculars as she was feeding. The photogs who had kept their distance over at Hitching Post were still watching her and someone who had been over there said they could also see the boar sleeping on the back side of the trees. Farther west down the road there was a Bald Eagle in a tree right near the river. At the next pullout we stopped to see if anyone there was seeing any wolves in the area. Someone walked over and asked if we had seen the Badger at it's den. "No, where would that be?" About 10 feet to the right of us just off the paved area of the pullout! And it was just sitting on top looking at us through the grass. Took a couple of pictures before it went down inside. Thank you to that kind gentleman because we would not have otherwise known. We made our way to Slough Creek because a couple we were talking with earlier told us they had spent quite a lot of time watching the pups up there that morning. We figured we'd give it shot. We pulled in and started to scan the hillside with the binoculars. In a short time Mike had found a black Wolf and two pups coming up out of a little depression. After awhile another Wolf was seen wandering about. We watched them for a good hour. and moved on. A black bear next to the road beside the Tower Ranger Station. Probably the same one Dorothy saw. It wasn't the least bit bothered by traffic and 2 rangers were keeping traffic moving although they did allow people to stop briefly to take a picture or two. Next we wanted to go back to Petrified Tree because earlier in the day we had seen a Badger Den just across the road from the entrance. Did not stop because a ton of people were there and very close. It was hard to see at much of a distance because it is basically in a large "ditch" near to the Badger wasn't visible at that time but we were ok with that since we had seen the other one earlier. One more trip out to the NE entrance and we find cars stopped just west of the big meadow that had the cute Moose calves. We stop and see a huge Moose come out of the trees and cross the road with a small calf in tow. We waited to see if a second calf was coming but no. The Moose headed into the trees on the other side along a game trail that went down towards the river and the big meadow. Went back to the meadow to wait for them. They stayed near the river and were not easily visible. They disappeared into the trees in the middle and we could not see them again. Not sure if this is a different cow from the day before or if it is the same one but something happened to one calf. Heading back to the hotel we see 2 large moose across the water at the tree line at Pebble Creek Campground.

Saturday - Well today we head for home and decide to spend at much time in the Tetons as we can in order to see 399 & cubs. Out the door by 6:15 and it's straight to the Tetons for us. Except for the fact that at Sheepeater turnoff there are a bunch of cars stopped all over that road. Of course we have to join them. There is a big Grizzly Bear sow with two little cubs. She has beautiful brown coloring and is crossing the road back and forth. She doesn't seem satisfied with either side. We watch for awhile and they disappear up the hill. Most cars leave but we just drive down to the end of the road and wait a little bit. Soon one of the other 2 cars tries to leave and stops halfway out the road. So we join them and the bears are back. They cross the road a couple of times before others start to arrive. The mother tries to take the cubs up to the main road to cross but a large garbage truck rumbles by very fast and it scares her. It was close, she was almost on the road. She bolts and runs a little ways and the cubs are scared too. She takes a few moments to comfort them nuzzling both as they lean against her front legs, then begins to move on. It was touching to see. By now the main road is blocked and we decide to leave. Into the Tetons and we start searching for 399. There is a milk chocolate colored young Moose at the bridge for Pilgrim Creek. After some time I was just about to say "well we could do this for days and not see her, should we call it a great trip and head for home?" when we round a curve and a lot of cars are pulled off. A cinnamon colored black Bear with black and cinnamon cubs are in the trees. We catch glimpses of them but they are just getting farther back in and suddenly everyone is leaving so we do too. But NOT before Mike gets some Intel on 399!!! He overhears a ranger telling someone that 399 has moved over to Signal Mountain area. She has a carcass from a couple of days ago that she has been feeding on. He said that when you pass by the turnoff to go to the top of the mountain just keep going to a long straight stretch of road. Well how convenient, that is the way we were heading anyway so off we go. It was actually a little farther but we know for sure the crowd is all for 399 when we see a vehicle with a plate that has Team399 on it. Sure enough they are all down in a meadow at the far edge at the tree line. The cubs are up in a tree and mom is grazing on the grasses all around the tree. We watch for about an hour and they wander off into the trees eventually. Success! Both goals have been met and it's officially a really great trip.
Now for the things we did not see. Unusually there were no Bighorn Sheep that we saw and no one else saw them either, no Antelope calves and only 2 elk calves. Just a tad early for them I guess. The only other sighting for the rest of the day was on a bridge in LeBarge Wyoming. One skunk and four fluffy little stinkers behind her scurrying along the walkway.

If you've made it this far, thank you for reading my novel. Every time I sit down to write one of these reports I tell myself to keep it brief. But I just can't help myself as I remember all the wonderful moments. I hope your next trip is as good as ours was.

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.
Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Yellowstone & Tetons June 8-13

Post by RikWriter »

Man, I miss seeing badgers.

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Re: Yellowstone & Tetons June 8-13

Post by Dorothy »

Wow, what a GREAT report! Sounds like we were there just a tad early to see all the COYs -- must have been up trees when we were there. And TWIN moose calves!??!?!?!? Incredible. Sounds like you had an awesome trip. AND 399 and cubs??!?!? Just unbelievable. I have a couple of days off next week and had planned to be good, stay nearby, get some cleaning done and take a couple of day trips, but now ... I'm SO tempted to head up Teton and Yellowstone way! :)

If I don't get there (and probably won't), as least I can live vicariously through your report. Thanks SO much, YNPjeepers, for the report. I could almost see all the animals there as you described them.

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Re: Yellowstone & Tetons June 8-13

Post by karenandbill »

at Sheepeater turnoff there are a bunch of cars stopped all over that road. Of course we have to join them. There is a big Grizzly Bear sow with two little cubs. She has beautiful brown coloring and is crossing the road back and forth.
We were there also! :o There was no way to know, but it would have been nice if we could have introduced ourselves. We drove in but parked back close to the main road. We though about trying to drive up closer, but there were quite a few cars there already and she seemed confused and a bit agitated, so we stayed back where we were and got back in the car as she started moving in our direction. So we did not get any good pictures. We left when she went up the hill as we wanted to see the wolf pups at Slough Cr. Good for you that you stayed by and she came back.
Sure enough they are all down in a meadow at the far edge at the tree line. The cubs are up in a tree and mom is grazing on the grasses all around the tree. We watch for about an hour and they wander off into the trees eventually. Success! Both goals have been met
So glad you got to see 399. :P When I started reading your post, I felt so bad because you must have just missed her on that first Monday you were there. We got to see her that day, but I wasn't going to mention that to you so you wouldn't feel bad. But good for you that you got to see her and the cubs on the way out! That is truly an iconic moment to see her and the four cubs up a tree.

We have not seen the twin moose fawns but will be on the lookout in the future. If we do find them, we will let you know.

Sounds like you had a fantastic trip! I'm so glad that it worked out so well. When can you make it back?

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