DAY ONE - Tuesday, September 14


I leave Bozeman at 4:15. The day is hazy, which has been sadly normal for Bozeman this summer. Temps are currently around 70.

The land is noticeably drier on my drive over the pass, with very little fall color yet. Paradise Valley has some golden cottonwoods and a few aspen. It’s hazy, too, and looks dry.

I reach Gardiner a little after 5 and smile to see about 6 elk near the gas station.

The first decent fall color appears in the willows of Chinese Gardens. I have my visit with Allison and head up to Mammoth.

Right on cue, a bull elk bugles. Oh, there he is! He’s a great looking bull, being admired by a long line of drivers and passengers. The cows across the road just munch away, paying him no mind.

I continue east and pass large bison herds on both sides of S curves. The temperature has dropped to a pleasant 66.

The water that I last saw in the western end of Phantom Lake has dried up, replaced by golden grasses.

I have a bison jam just west of Curve in Little America. I notice all the red dogs have turned brown.

The day has become really beautiful, and I see several Pronghorn by the Peregrine hills.

My first sight of Lamar Valley is thrilling. The hills are turning golden, and the aspen and cottonwoods are putting on a show.

There is a large crowd at Coyote, so I stop and set up my scope. But people are looking every which way and no one seems to be seeing wolves. One group has a grizzly in view on Amethyst, so I watch him a while.

I scan Jasper several times but see no movement. So, on I go.

There is another grizzly in view in Soda Butte Valley. The rest of my drive is uneventful.

I arrive in Silver Gate and unpack, and have a lovely evening catching up with Laurie & Dan.

Today I saw: 2 grizzly bears, bison, mule deer, elk, pronghorn, and the spirits of Allison and Richard.

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