And now for the news since my last visit in early April. I am happy to report that spring did finally come to Yellowstone. May remained cool and wet and the ground was saturated with rain. On Memorial Day weekend a two-day blizzard arrived. That Saturday a car-sized boulder slid down a steep hillside, cracking and gouging the road west of Phantom Lake, closing it to traffic. When the main debris was cleared away, the Park allowed one lane to open for emergencies and law enforcement only. Engineers were nervous about a second slide on that hillside, but after two days the road was re-opened, along with new "no stopping" signs. Many visitors were inconvenienced by that event.
After Memorial Day weekend, the melt began slowly. The temperatures got warmer and the amount of water coming down increased every day until it was in full flood. The rampaging Soda Butte river began to eat away at the roadway just west of 21's crossing. In late June, it took out a whole lane, and passage from Silver Gate to points west were again disrupted. While Park crews brought in boulders to shore up the bank, Rangers allowed one-lane passage only for local folk with legitimate business and law enforement. Wildlife-watchers were turned around at Fisherman's pullout, leaving much of the Lamar Valley literally free of people for a few precious days.
In late June, the volume of water in the Lamar reached historic levels. As the day of my departure approached, the road was still emergency-only so I re-arranged my plans and diverted to Hayden Valley for the first three days. The road finally re-opened to two-way traffic on June 30th.
As for the Northern Range packs, well, our favorite female, the 06, gave birth to pups a few days after I left in April. Five pups have been seen so far: three black and two gray. The Agates and Blacktails also have pups, as do the Canyons.
Poor 692F of the Blacktails remains a wolf without a pack. She is seen often in Little America, but also along Specimen Ridge. We keep hoping some smart male will find her and see her for the stalwart female she is. Another Blacktail female who travels alone is 752F. She has been seen on and off in the Northern Range as well.
We lost a few more wolves, too. 472, the grand dame alpha female of the Agates was killed by the Blacktails in the early spring. Her daughter, 715F stepped up into the alpha female position.
Before I headed to Yellowstone, I spent two weeks in Bozeman, getting my home office set up and exploring the city. I will have one more week in Bozeman after this trip before I head back to NYC. It has been an eye-opening time.
Thanks to Ballpark Frank for researching the hike in Hayden. And, as always, to Doug and John.
P.S. I am not a wolf or wildlife expert, but an enthusiast, and if you find anything in this report
to be wrong or misleading, feel free to bring it to my attention by e-mailing me at