It’s a normal 20 degrees as I set off in the afternoon for my first trip to the Park in 2023. This trip also marks the first time I am wearing my new “haids”, Phillips hearing aids that I bought from Costco in December.
Laurie & Dan flew in last night and are now ahead of me. I am surprised to see very little snow cover on the hills north and south of the Pass, but instead the dry gold of fall. However, the mountain peaks are full of snow.
The same is true for Paradise Valley. The flats have melted out, but the foothills and peaks are white.
I get a chuckle as I drive through Yankee Jim. About a hundred yards from the electronic sign warning “Wildlife on Roadway” a bighorn ram is grazing.
There are elk in Corwin Springs and at the airport, and plenty of resident mule deer and elk in Gardiner. Plenty of bison visible near the Main gate.
I stop at the high pullout on the new road for my visit with Allison, then continue on to Mammoth. I find more snow on the ground up here and nice Christmas decorations still up in the lobby of the hotel.
A giant tourist bus has stopped near the chapel to allow its passengers to admire a bison herd on the hill below.
Laurie tipped me off that wolves had been seen this morning across from Wraith Falls and sure enough I find several cars parked here.
It’s snowing lightly and there is a bit of wind, but Michael comes over and helps me find the spot. I get my first glimpse of two Lupine Creek wolves, one black and one gray. They are bedded near a distinctive tree on a low slope of Everts.
Michael says he had six earlier but the rest of them are no longer visible. I don’t have my heavy coat on yet, so I just stay a short time. I thank Micharl and hustle back to my car.
As I drive through the Blacktail and into Little America, the snow level keeps rising. By the time I get to Lamar, it’s a pretty impressive amount for this early in the winter.
At Exclosure I recognize the limping coyote, poor thing.
As I pass Footbridge I catch movement to the south. I stop in the road and watch a moose come down the bank to Soda Butte Creek. Not sure if this is a cow or an antlerless bull but it lowers its head for a drink.
I meet a second coyote in Icebox Canyon as it climbs up to the road from below.
I reach Laurie’s around 4, giving me plenty of time to unload and then help with dinner.
We have a pleasant evening around the fireplace.
Today I saw: bison, 2 coyotes, mule deer, elk, 1 moose, 2 Lupine wolves and the spirits of Alison,
Richard and Jeff.