I am pleased to find my family up and ready to go at 6:30AM.
Everyone has had some breakfast bars and coffee, so we are now off for another adventure. On our way out of the cabin area we see two white-tailed deer just inside the forest.
We head through Hayden Valley and find it fogged in (as usual). I stop at the Alum Creek Double Pullout so we can see four swans in the creek. There is also a mixed herd of bison and elk on the telephone pole hills to the west. Of course, I am looking for wolves but donít find any.
What we DO have, though, is bison. All over the road as they so often are. We are in no hurry and the fog is picturesque and there are still not many people out here yet. From the comfort of the car we watch bison behavior; calves with their moms, dominance mounting by yearlings, and various other activities.
Then we head to Grizzly Overlook again. No wolves in view but there are elk and calves in the meadow again.
We move on and stop again at one of the high, east-facing pullouts in the Valley, where we see our first grizzly. A young bear, alone, grazing at the bottom of the hill, along with several lone bison.
He is far enough away for safety but nicely close for photos, so my group is very happy.
Now we go on to Mud Volcano and take a stroll along the boardwalks. We end up looping all the way around to the Dragonís Mouth. On the way we see many fascinating thermal features, as well as a mountain bluebird, a golden mantled ground squirrel (chipmunk) and a yellow warbler. The weather cooperates with bright sun, high, puffy clouds and cool temps.
Now we head further south and turn east at Fishing Bridge. We stop here for a bit and Elaine makes a nice spot of a bald eagle in a tree. We also see a pelican, a California gull, and several buffleheads.
We continue east and right around Indian Pond we come upon a beautiful coyote out mousing by himself in a field. At Mary Bay we see bison, geese, and a pair of mule deer bucks.
At Steamboat point we are visited by a friendly raven who has handouts on his mind, but gets none from us. At Sedge Bay we see a marmot sunning his pudgy body on a rock.
I drive up Lake Butte Overlook and we stop for a gorgeous view of Mt. Sheridan and the Tetons. On our way back down, we stop behind a pulled over truck, and join a couple here with very big glass. They are kind enough to tell is they are photographing owlets in a tree Ė great-horned owlets. It takes us a while, but we finally see them Wow, they are big!
We head back west and stop at the Fishing Bridge Gift Shop to have lunch at the counter. Yum, grilled cheese and lemonade.
Our next stop is at LeHardy Rapids, where we take the trail down to the river. There is a may-fly hatch going on which amuses us. We see many ducks but no pelicans (nor any leaping trout) but itís a nice walk and great rapids.
We drive past Grizzly Overlook but then I see quite a few cars pulled over beside the meadow, so I park to see if I can figure out whatís going on. Then I see Rick out there, so we all take a walk.
When I get there, I discover that there were wolves visible earlier in the day but no longer and that Rick is about to head back to Lamar. I introduce my family to him and a few other people with him.
We head back to the car and continue on our way. On our way over Dunraven Pass we stop in a few places, seeing elk and bison, but itís a bit late in the day to see wolves or bears.
However, as we head downhill towards the Yellowstone Bridge, we are caught in a very big jam. We stop and discover that itís for a black bear mom Ė this one with three yearlings. Ranger John Kerr is here. This is another very nice sighting and we canít believe our bear luck this trip!
Finally we drive through my favorite place, the Lamar Valley. In Little America we see lots of pronghorn, then some very big bison herds with lots of orange calves. Some are nursing, some romping, some head-butting.
With Druid Peak showing the way, we enter Lamar Valley proper, open and rugged and lushly green for the season. The bison herds are even larger here, but further away so we donít stop.
At Hitching Post we see pronghorn to the north on the eyebrow hill and we stop at the pullout. David and Debbie are fascinated by the swallows that make mud nests in the eaves of the outhouses, and flit in and out feeding their young.
There are no wolves around, nor any wolf watchers, so we continue east. At Baronette Peak we see our 12th black bear, a solo male walking through the green meadow.
Now we all check in at the Elkhorn Motel in Cooke City. We crash and take naps, agreeing to meet for dinner at 5:30.
The Beartooth Cafť is open. Although everyone has told me of its excellent reputation, I have never eaten here. Well, now I can attest that it is just as good as they say. Both David and Debbie have a beer, and I know what that means. They are going to crash for the night. You canít drink beer at altitude when you are tired and not used to it.
We discuss the issue of getting up early Ė that they have told me they want to see wolves and the best way I know to help them see wolves is to get up early. But they are on vacation and see that as ďworkĒ. I say I donít mind if they sleep in, but if they miss wolves as a consequence, then they canít make me feel bad for not delivering a wolf sighting. They agree with that and we make a compromise. They all go to bed and I head down to Silver Gate to visit with Rick. After that I come back to Cooke and get to bed by 8:30!
Today I saw: 5 black bears, one grizzly bear, a mountain bluebird, bison (and calves), buffleheads, a coyote, mule deer, white-tailed deer, a bald eagle, elk (and calves), geese, a gull, a marmot, 2 great-horned owlets, a pelican, pronghorn, a golden-mantled ground squirrel, 4 swans, a yellow warbler and the spirit of Allison.