I am on my way to Yellowstone from Bozeman after a short bout with a 24 hour stomach flu.
Although I feel a bit tentative overall, I am fairly certain that Yellowstone will prove just the tonic to soothe me, although I also enlist the old-fashioned service of a peppermint lozenge.
There has been some recent snow. Many trees still bear their leaves in lovely fall colors and the extra layer of white on top makes them look especially pretty.
The high and rocky peaks of the mountains are fully covered and it's 36 degrees under partial sun as I head along the highway towards Bozeman Pass.
On the news there is talk of a serious hurricane headed for New York City and the surrounding area. It worries me for my sister, Cindy, but she and I have talked and I know she is prepared for the worst.
My drive is uneventful but absolutely beautiful. There is much more fall color than I expected this late in October. The cottonwoods are a gorgeous orange and the willows are scarlet and purple. The sky is partly sunny but then out of nowhere I get a squall of snow-flurries.
My first wildlife sighting is a hawk just south of the rest area on 89. In Tom Miner basin I quickly add mulies and some pronghorn to my list, then see more of both just outside Gardiner.
I am through the Arch at 2PM. Pronghorn and elk greet me, including a nice big bull elk with a wonderful set of antlers in the flats to the right of the entrance.
On McMinn bench I find many bighorn sheep, rams, ewes and lambs. The rams are especially impressive. A bit further up the road I stop for my visit with Allison and let her know how happy I am to be back.
I see my first bison herd at Blacktail Ponds and there are more bison on the lower Blacktail as I head up to the S curves.
Floating Island Lake is mostly frozen over, and there is snow on top, with a few open holes here and there.
I hear chatter over the radio that indicates the Junction Pack has a kill somewhere in the Elk Creek area. The Junction Pack was in the process of forming when I was in the Park in July - but much has happened since. The pack consists of mostly Mollie females and at least one former Blacktail wolf - whom we call "Puff". I believe his name was given when his bout with mange left him with a "puff" of a tail. It is good to note that his has almost thoroughly recovered from that dread disease. There are two, maybe three pups of the year in this pack - and we do not know their actual parentage - yet.
At Elk Creek I stop when I see a couple scoping to the north. We chat and I find they are looking for the Junction Pack's kill, like I am. We find an elk herd out there, but not a carcass. Nor do we see any birds in the area.
I decide to head further east.
There is hardly any snow in the Tower area, just a dusting here and there. I find it beautiful, though.
Things are quiet on the Lamar River Bridge construction project and the water in Lamar Canyon is very low. But the exposed boulders are all topped with snow and look so nice.
Lamar Valley seems more open and empty than ever before. There are very few people in the Park - and I do not mean that as a complaint!
The sun peeks out for a bit while I scope from Dorothy's, making everything look absolutely gorgeous!
I decide to make an early night of it, though, just to make sure I am over whatever hit me yesterday. I drive east to Silver Gate. There are patches of accumulated snow on the road above Icebox Canyon, as expected, all in the shady, forested spots.
I reach Laurie's around 5:15 and I have a lovely visit with her. Her hospitality is especially appreciated this time.
Today I saw: bison, mule deer, elk, a hawk, bighorn sheep and the spirit of Allison.