Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Well this is our last day in the park (although we will leave out the east gate early on the 3rd). We decided that we would head into the Hayden for a quick look and then over Washburn for bears.

The valley was pretty quiet, but there were a few elk in the southern end of the valley that were crossing to the east side of the Yellowstone, so we headed up to Washburn.

On the flanks of Washburn at a small turnout between the larger turn out with the big rock everyone climbs on and the Chittenden Road turn out we came upon a small jam. It was Scarface again and this time he was upslope from the main road. We set up the camera, but he dipped down into a draw below our line of site, but we thought he would come back out. Up on Chittenden Road though, they were able to have a good view, but we were a lot closer than they were. We discussed moving up to the other road, but knowing our luck he would cross where we were, so we decided that patience would be better, and it was.

He was casually browsing, but then he decided he wanted to be someplace different and moved, rapidly. He headed to the end of the line of parked cars and crossed the road and headed downslope. There was a bit of consternation, as a small crowd had gathered and several started running to get a better shot, but we were all within 100yds of him. I had the big lens on and wasn’t going to move, and just stayed positioned in front of our trunk. Tiffany got in the truck and in retrospect, she was the smartest of the bunch. I figured that I had missed out on some good shots, because I wasn’t going to approach him, but then my good deeds and rules following finally paid off. He decided to head for the patch of meadow immediately in front of me. He was close enough I had to pull the tele extender off the lens, and I was able to get some full face shots. He is not as photogenic as I would have liked, and this is only an OK shot, but I have some better shots in the galleries where he actually graced us with a look. My guess is that I was in the 15 to 20 yrd distance from him. There was a volunteer there that was counting bears in the Washburn area and he estimated that Scarface was 18 to 20 years old, and in these pictures weighed about 600lbs. After watching bears chase the elk calves these past three weeks, I would have been toast if he wanted me. Fortunately, he was pretty calm about the entire scene and most of the people were being very good.

We headed on back toward Dunraven where we saw a nice cinnamon black bear. Then on down into the Hayden again with designs of going to Fishing Bridge for breakfast. At the south end of the valley, Dori noticed two grizzlies hanging out on the east side of the river, so we watched them for a while.

After breakfast we headed to Mary’s Bay and Lake Butte Overlook. At the turn off for Lake Butter there was a resource ranger and they had been watching a male grizzly just to the north of the main road, but it had bedded down. We went on up the butte and on the way down stopped for some shots of the marmots.

We then headed back through the Hayden and over to Norris. Just past the golden gate we came on a huge bear jam. The was the usual it’s a grizzly bear comments from the vehicles approaching us, but it turned out as expected, a nice looking cinnamon bear.

We then headed toward Roosevelt hoping to come across the cubs again, but no joy, so we decided to have an early dinner at Roosevelt. From there we headed out to the Lamar in hopes of finding wolves.

Just coming up from the Lamar canyon area we came on another black bear, so we stopped and watched for a while. By this time it was getting later so we headed on toward the hitching post for a bathroom break. We noticed a lot of people up on the hill where many used to watch the Druids from, but we decided we needed the break and would check out the den site. There were a lot of people at the den site, but no real activity. When I told them of the people back on the hill, they apparently called on the radio and the dedicated watchers packed up and left, so of course we followed.

Apparently, there was a bison carcass out in the sage, that the wolves had been feeding on, but there was a grizzly on it. It was getting late and the distances were pretty great so we chose not to carry a camera and we relied on the scopes and binocs. This was a great experience as one of the gray druids came in and chased of the bear, the bear started for another grizzly while a third much larger grizzly headed down toward the kill. The thing that amazed me was how timid the bears were with the wolf, because they could have easily kept the wolf off the kill, but I think they were worried the rest of the pack would show up.

So the last day ended well, with us seeing 6 grizzly bears, 3 black bears, and 1 wolf, with lots of interesting stories to tell. It will take me several weeks to go through all of the pictures we took (over 7000) and decide which ones we want to make available to the public.

On a side note, I am trying to make money from my shots, so please forgive the quality of the shots in the trip reports, as these were selected to help tell the story and to encourage you to go to the galleries to check out the better shots.

Thanks for letting us share our thoughts and our trip with you and I hope it allowed you to see what we were doing and inspire you to come view our wonderful National Parks and Monuments.

I hope to see you under the Western Skies.

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