Just as we were coming down from the top of Mt Washburn there was a coyote standing in the road. It walked to the side and continued on it’s journey trotting on top of the snow bank. We wondered if this was it’s regular hangout for the Sunday Brunch Roadkill Buffet. Beautiful scenery all the way to the Nez Perce picnic area. We sat by the river and watched the Heron Rookery while eating lunch. Except for the honking geese today, it is a fairly quiet place and the sound of the water is relaxing. On to fishing bridge where we see a single otter swimming at the Pelican creek bridge. No luck with bears, but no surprise since there is so much tree cutting going on through the area. Returning to the north we stop at the Cascade picnic area which is very near to the Nez Perce lunch stop and we can see another side of the Heron Rookery. There are 6 Herons perched on the branches and a small head in the top of one of the nests. Coming down on the other side of Mt Washburn, we just miss a cinnamon bear that went over the top of the ridge, but down around a couple of corners there is a black bear grazing down in the ravine. As we travel out through the Lamar valley, again we comment on how much water there is, and see water draining from the floor of the valley into the river. A check on the badgers and none are visible. We don’t wait long as we can see cars piling up just down the road. As we approach the confluence we see a bison apparently trying to cross the river towards the road. It gets halfway and turns around to go back to shore. We pass through the congestion and see a calf next to the water on the road side of the river. Ok, now it makes more sense. The mother is trying to get her calf to the other side. Then I see a man standing among the willows at the waters edge with his selfie stick hanging out over the water. He is trying to get a photo of the bison calf. I’m not sure if he was responsible for the mother bison turning around or if it was the swift water. We park in a turnout a little ways down the road to watch. Talking to a gentleman and a couple parked there we are told there are multiple people in the willows trying to get pictures. We watch for a little while but ultimately decide to move on.
We check Tower road and no sign of any bears but we did catch just the smallest glimpse of a fox crossing the road at Rainy Lake. At the Yellowstone bridge there are cars stopped so we know this is where we will see a bear. Sure enough there is a black bear grazing on the hillside in the shade of the trees. I see some movement off to the side and I am sure it is a cub. But I hear someone say there is one cub with her and it is climbing the tree. I’m sure there is one on the ground. Then I hear someone else tell a passing car that there are two cubs with her and they are both in the tree. OK, so these are the triplets we love watching so much. The third one follows the siblings up into the highest part of the tallest tree! The just have no fear and are all about the fun. As someone walks up to set up her tripod she talks about our Jeep with the YNET magnet on it. Mike tells her we go by YNPjeepers on the site and she said, “yes, I figured that out when I saw your license plate over by Rainy Lake”. (It’s JEEPERS) It turns out to be Katie whom we have met before. She said she hasn’t posted on here for awhile but maybe she will. I hope so. During the course of the conversation she mentions that she was able to get photos of the Steamboat geyser erupting!!! It’s all about timing. It was really nice to chat with you Katie and so nice of you to set up your scope so that the kids (and adults) could see the cubs way up high in the tree. We roll onward and just past the Yellowstone picnic area there are some ewes standing on a rock looking majestic. We stop for photos and more of them appear amongst the trees. There are also deer in there. They are all running around and appear to be playing with each other without actually getting too close. As we move on we see a coyote in the sage near Specimen ridge. At the Badger area we see the kids out and playing again. A couple of them show they already have that digging instinct as they occasionally are putting dirt back into the den. A few more pictures are in order before we leave. It’s time to head out of the park and down towards the Tetons. We only have the 2nd half of today and the 1st half of tomorrow before heading for home. Just past Jackson Lake Lodge we pull up behind a couple of cars by the side of the road. There is a black bear munching on grass. I spy a cub head behind a tree. Eventually we discover there are triplets. One black, one dark brown and one light brown. They are very playful and fun to watch. When the ranger arrives he calls for backup (a crowd is gathering) and instructs the very young ranger on how to ask people to move their vehicles and set up some cones just in case the bears want to cross the road. Patient and polite, the young ranger did a good job of it. We see a moose at the bridge by Dornan’s turnoff. It is stripping willow branches near the water’s edge. Lots of people stop for pictures. At one point it seems distracted by something (or someone) among the trees. It quickly steps into the trees and is no longer visible. When we return to the car we can see that people have left the roadway and are walking down towards the trees, selfie sticks in hand. It’s a great way to get charged by a moose! We take a drive down along Moose-Wilson road. A lot of birds are happily chirping away but no sign of anything bigger than that. As evening nears we drive up towards the upper portion of the park in hopes of seeing some grizzlies since the only ones we saw in Yellowstone were a sow and two cubs way high up on the mountainside beyond hitching post. No luck but plenty of people are slowly cruising the area waiting for them to show up.
We take the time this morning to drive over by Gros Ventre. On the way near the roundabout under construction, there is a bull moose trying to figure out how to get to the other side of the fence. Once down the road there is a small stretch that has been rerouted because the river washed away a good chunk of earth. We head up towards Pilgrim creek road because that’s where we are hearing Blondie and 399 can be seen with their progeny. Just north of Pilgrim creek we find a few cars stopped. It’s 399 and company. It doesn’t take long for her to step onto the road and assess the situation. No one is willing to get back into their cars and someone has to tell the lady standing beside her car on the road about 6 feet from the sow, that she is too close. We spend about an hour or so watching them meander through the meadow before they cross and head off into the woods. Up the road we go and a few miles outside of the “six mile zone for bears and cubs crossing the road” sign, we find Blondie and her two young ones. They spend some time right near the road with no concerns. We think she is about to cross when someone in a van right in front of her SLAMS the door shut and startles her so much she moves the family back away from the road. They work their way up the road and the bear jam becomes so big there are 3 or 4 rangers doing traffic control. I wouldn’t want their job. Eventually they cross and disappear down into the trees. Sigh….It’s time to head south for home and so ends another fabulous trip.
Until next year!
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