DAY ONE - Saturday, May 22


Well, just when I thought Spring was coming, we had a change in the weather. We had three inches of overnight snow on Thursday, so I postponed my drive until I was sure the highway would be clear again. But yesterday, instead of warming up, it remained below freezing, in the high 20’s all day long. It’s still quite cold today, only 30 degrees, but the sky looks a lot more promising.

Bozeman needed the precipitation, but the snow was heavy and wet, taking a harsh toll on the just recently leafed-out trees. Our tulips and daffodils, which bloomed last week but now drooped over under their cold, white blanket. But they are still showing color so maybe if the sun comes out for an hour or two they might still perk back up.

It’s not so surprising to have snow in May; what was surprising was that the temps stayed below freezing for 24 hours.

Well, it’s now almost 10AM and I am on my way. The hills on both sides of the highway show evidence of our storm, still fully covered in snow.

But the sun is peeking out by the time I reach Livingston. The cottonwoods are showing their bright first green and I see flowering shrubs in bloom through Emmigrant. Very nice.

There are elk in Tom Miner basin and various sandhills on either side. As I emerge south of Yankee Jim the sun blazes out in a now clear sky, making the river sparkle and lighting up the green.

More progress has been made on the main gate. The usual route is now paved & painted except for one final section of gravel just before the kiosks. They are working hard!

Clouds obscure the top of Mt. Everts, making it look really spooky. I believe there are many more RV’s in the Park than I saw a week ago. There is also a bit more green, which is welcome.

I have my visit with Allison and turn on my phone to try to reach Chloe & Becky.

I find them in Mammoth, and we watch a great-horned owl near its nest. We are told there are two owlets this year, but we don’t manage to find them.

After a good catch up, B & C head off for a late lunch and I continue to the east.

There is still water in only the western end of Phantom Lake. Overall, the Blacktail Plateau still seems dry to me.

At Junction Butte I see a lot of cars stopped. Ahh, they are watching a pair of sandhills on a nest in the pond.

There are noticeably more people in the Park this week, but then again, it’s a Saturday. Little America looks greener than last week and the temps have risen to a comfortable 55.

The river is churning through Lamar Canyon, with café au lait colored water, but not much volume. There is still some snow on Druid Peak but nothing left in the flats. The River seems to be in flood stage – but this year it’s a very mild flood. Lamar not yet fully green. I guess it’s still a little early.

There are many people stopped at Picnic and Trash Can, looking north. I stop and ask a couple with binoculars what they’re seeing. It’s a grizzly sow with two. Nice!

On my way northeast, I check the various snow-melt washes between Round Prairie and Silver Gate. None of them are gushing – just a measly trickle in one or two. Well, maybe it’s too early.

I get to Silver Gate and visit with Laurie & Dan while I unload my stuff.

After a while we all head out for the evening wolf-viewing.

We set up at Slough and see a single black pup at the den. I find a black bear across the flats near the Southern Round Tree.

Maureen & Rick are here plus Mark & Carol. A light drizzle begins around 7, then gets heavy at 7:30 so we pack up and go back east.

At Trash Can, several people on the hill look like they are seeing something to the south. The rain has stopped so I climb up and join Gary. He was watching a black & a gray near the Western foothill but they have gone into the trees. After a while of fruitless scoping, I turn mine to the north and find the grizzly sow with two yearlings again.

Today I saw: 3 grizzly bears (including 2 yearling cubs), bison, sandhill cranes, mule deer, a bald eagle, elk, a great horned owl, pronghorn, 1 black Junction pup and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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