Just a quick trip

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Dorothy
Posts: 178
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:45 pm

Just a quick trip

Post by Dorothy »

My sis and niece and I had a quick 4-day trip to Camas, Market Lake, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Seedskadee in mid-September (13-16). Four different hotels, five different parks -- and lots of fun! Thanks to those who gave me some tips on where things might be seen -- we saw quite a bit considering our hurried trip.

So, a quick rundown. Camas had a bunch of sandhill cranes (lots of fun to see flying and "pronking" a bit with each other), along with various other water birds and hawks. Market Lake had a LOT of great blue herons and what looked like a big flock of maybe flickers (?) among other birds.

Saw some sandhill cranes near Roaring Mountain as we traveled toward Gardiner/Lamar when we got into Yellowstone. Got into Mammoth for a really great "rutting" moment for the elk -- a really big guy was strutting around, buggling a lot and rounding up cows (most looked like ones with this-year's youngsters or pretty young themselves, so not sure if he was going to have much success with them, but it was fun to watch!). Some kestrels (perhaps a falcon, not sure) along the old road from Mammoth to Gardiner. A couple of grizzlies waaaay up on a hillside across the river from the Lamar Buffalo Ranch -- clear enough to see well with binocs and my motor-almost-dead 300 lens got some photos that you can see they are grizzlies! On the way back out of Lamar saw a black bear with a cub (well, a larger black spot and a smaller black spot) up on a hillside -- again, could tell they were bears (well, bear, as the cub disappeared quickly) with binocs, so it's all good.

Next morning more elk hi-jinks in Mammoth, then a fun elk encounter on our way to Blacktail Ponds overlook. Spotted a big bull elk in the trees and pulled over to watch (almost no traffic at that time in the morning, thank goodness!). Were moving on when we spotted ANOTHER big bull a ways away from the first guy. Stopped to look at him and as we watched, Bull No. 1 began moseying over toward Bull No. 2. As the first guy moved along, we could tell he was QUITE a big bigger than the second one, even though No. 2 was a good-sized guy. As he got closer, Bull No. 2 took a step or two toward him, then nonchalantly turned around and kinda moseyed off, like, this was what I was intending to do all along. Yeah, sure! It was obvious that Bull No. 1 would be a winner if they squared off. Didn't see any cows around, but probably were some in the trees. Fun to watch!

Not much doing out in Lamar, but went all the way out to Cooke City and enjoyed the beautiful drive. Some leaves turning, so it was extra pretty.

Spotted a black bear on the side of the mountain just over the Yellowstone River bridge heading to Roosevelt. Quite a large crowd on hand, but rangers had things in hand and we were all able to watch (from the far side of the road with a "hole" left in case bear decided to come up to the road and cross) and enjoy. Nice to see a bear close -- this one was in and out of the trees, then doubleback toward the bridge and disappeared (at least momentarily) into the trees.

Stopped at Sheepeater a couple of times to see if there were still any marmots out. Really busy there. Our first time, tho', was a bit less busy and my niece said she saw one on a rock. She pointed it out but neither my sis nor I could seem to spot it, and she said it went back into the rocks pretty soon. She did take a photo with her little camera, and when we got back to the hotel we took a look. I swear it is a PIKA! It was definitely not a marmot and it sure looked like a (pretty fuzzy, rather out of focus) pika. Sis and I have wanted to see PIka for years, and here our niece spots one (and we don't) right away. Sigh! Still, pretty fun!

Pronghorn along the way, and a coyote just outside of Canyon as we headed down to Teton. A few female Harlequin ducks and some merganzers at LeHardy (LOTS of bison in both Lamar and Hayden), Then what looked like either a ruffed or dusky grouse calmly walking along the side of the road (and into the road, foolish thing) near Lewis Lake. We hoped it didn't get hit, as other cars were hurrying by it without seeming to see it. We pulled into the Lewis Lake campground area a ways past where we saw it to take advantage of the facilities, as as we were pulling out again, I looked down the road and jokingly said, "I was just looking for our grouse -- wonder if he made it down here yet?" And lo and behold, there he was, on our side of the road just about to cross the road to the campground area where we were waiting to pull back onto the loop road! We laughed and laughed -- but were glad he HAD made it and we were able to watch him a bit as he finally crossed our road and headed into the brush.

Pretty smoky when we got to Grand Teton, which made for some kinda fun, eerie shots of the mountains that night (much clearer the next day). Didn't have long in the park, but were hoping to see bears along Moose-WIlson, some moose, and MAYBE spot 399 (who we heard had been down around Highway 22 around Wilson and down toward Jackson).

Accomplished everything but 399 (although for a moment we thought ....). Saw several moose with this year's calves (one near the golf course on Spring Gulch, one in Sawmill pond), and saw a BIG bull moose cross the Snake River near the bridge that's by the Craig Thomas visitor's center at Moose. It was awesome! As we were crossing the bridge heading toward the highway, we thought we saw something big, brown and "moose" shaped on the shore nearest the visitor's center, so we turned around and came back across, and sure enough, could see it was a moose. Parked and walked over the bridge and saw it was a BIG bull moose in the willows by the river. Watched for a bit as it moved in and out of the trees, then it emerged and walked along the shore in around a corner and disappeared. Started heading back toward the car when it reappeard again and walked out into the water. Yay! Love seeing moose inthe water. There was an island/sandspit in the middle of the river there, and a boat with fisherman coming under the bridge. It walked out into the shallow water and toward the long island/sandspit. I was heading toward the other shore on the island when it spotted the fishing boat, which had floated to that side of the island (it was deeper there). Halted and kind of went back a bit toward the original side it had been on, the resumed it's trek to the other side when the boat moved on. Got out into the water (which didn't appear to be deep enough to make it swim) and decided it didn't like something about it (either depth or current or footing or something) so got back onto the sandspit and began heading down toward us on the bridge. WOW! It would go out into the channel a ways, with the water boiling around its legs, then move back into the shallower water by the sandspit. It was amazing to watch! It was often walking right toward the bridge. We could hear it grunting every second or third step, feet splashing in the water, water cresting around its legs and eventually, as it moved more into the channel, around its shoulders. Eventually it found a place it liked, turned its body sideways to breast the current and walked steadily across the channel, took 2-3 big steps up onto the rocky shore and moved into the trees.

WOW!!! So much fun to watch this. It was about a half hour's worth of viewing, but just so exciting.Always see something new or different in our visits to the parks.

Had no luck with bears up and down Moose-Wilson (upper part closed while we were there for the 2-3 time per year "dust abatement") for the first 2-3 times, but as we were trying again, were turning around at Lawrence Rockafeller when we spotted a bear crossing the road right behind the "road closed" sign. Couldn't park along the roadside there, so turned around and moved back to the intersection. The car ahead of us moved just as the bear was visibled across the road and so we had a chance to get some quick photos before the rangers (who were already there) asked us to move along. Fun! Then, on our last trip, there was a bear with a couple of cubs up in the berry bushes/trees just a ways up from Sawmill Pond. Rangers there, with cones along the side of the road where the bears were, directing one-way traffic back and forth. Not a ton of traffic, thank goodness, so were able to "roll through" the coned area very slowly (even stop briefly so the driver -- me -- could take a shot) and take a few photos, and told that we could "come back past" as many times as we'd like, so we rolled past 3-4 times and saw the mom briefly through the trees and one cub up in the branches of a berry bush and another climbing an aspen to get closer to the berries. GREAT!

Went out Spring Gulch road so we could drive up past WIlson and back toward Jackson on our way out to see if by chance 399 was about. Coming back from WIlson getting near the Jackson intersection, traffic was heavy and slowing waaaayyy down so we hoped ... and suddenly, there was a brown bear on the other side of the road and dashing out into the road. Could it be?????!!!! No -- it was "just" a cinnamon black bear crossing the road and diving into someone's back yard on the other side (I can't imagine THAT was a welcome situation). Didn't ever think watching a bear cross the road almost directly in front of us would be a "just a cinnamon black bear" reaction -- but when you're hoping to see "the queen" and her four consorts, it was a bit of a deflated feeling (or course, after we got over the disappointment of it not being 399 and her cubs, it WAS a cool happening).

Had to move on toward home. Stopped in Seedskadee and saw a couple more big bull moose (heard they had been fighting over a cow -- which was also saw -- the night before, but no fighting now) near the visitor's center and saw three porcupines, two in the trees and one scuttling along the road in Dodge Bottom, then crossing over the boat launch area and into the trees. THAT was fun!

So, a lot of "quick" views of many parks, but some really cool experiences and beautiful scenery as the colors are coming. Will go again whenever we can!



karenandbill
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:55 am

Re: Just a quick trip

Post by karenandbill »

Wow! Sounds like you had a great trip. Thanks for sharing. That moose encounter was amazing as were the two bull elk. It was years before we finally saw a pica. We've seen several since but none this year. Sorry you missed 399 but seeing any bear along that stretch of highway is very unusual.

We have never been to Seedskadee and your description is inspiring us to go. 3 porkies!!! That's pretty cool. Glad you had so much success in a short time.

--Bill



Dorothy
Posts: 178
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:45 pm

Re: Just a quick trip

Post by Dorothy »

We did have a great trip, thanks! I'm happy my niece saw and got a photo of a pica and hope it will happen for us soon! And yes, the bear on that highway was fun -- and surprising!

Seedskadee is a lot of fun -- we really enjoy it and have seen lots of fun things there -- the porky on the ground was unexpected (we did glimpse one going across a road once a while ago, and have spotted a few in the trees over the years. The place to REALLY see porkies is Ouray out in Utah (between Vernal and Roosevelt. Go in the fall or spring, when the leaves are not on the trees (or are sparse). I can almost guarantee you'll see porcupines! This spring, I think it was April or early May, and saw at least 16 porcupines in trees (and one on the ground coming at us). Sometimes there were two (once three) in one tree! And there were several close enough to the road and not so high in the tree that we could see the faces and really get some fun photos.

I have so appreciated all the trips you've shared on this board and glad you enjoyed reading this!



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