DAY ONE - Thursday, May 19

GORGEOUS GREEN-UP

Iíve spent the last 17 days in Bozeman tending to my herbs and bushes. Now that they are growing well, Iím heading back to Yellowstone for more wolf watching.

The first puppies were spotted just a few days ago, so I am eager to see them!

Itís 10:30 and a nice 45 degrees. Itís a very blustery day with big puffy clouds. The weather has been cool and rainy which is normal, historically, but not true for the last few years. The moisture and coolness has delayed our spring somewhat and Bozeman is only starting to leaf out. I hope to find my lilacs in bloom when I get back.

I see rain clouds ahead in Paradise Velley. The Yellowstone River is pretty high and quite muddy. The valley is greening up and the mountains are beautifully draped with recent snow.

I see a nice herd of about 60 elk near the Gardiner airport.

I am so happy to see how GREEN the Park is! Wow! Woo hoo! Oh, it looks so pretty! Iíve only been gone a few weeks, but boy, what a change.

The Gardiner River is churning and frothy. It looks great. What a treat! So green green green! Hooray for rain! You did this!

As I visit with Allison, I watch elk bedded on the opposite hill. As I pass Lava Creek, a marmot dashes across the road. I stop at Blacktail ponds but see only ravens on the old carcass. I also see several photogs here, still hopeful for a canid to arrive.

There are a few pronghorn scattered here and there.

The Blacktail seems a tad less green than Mammoth. Chilly temps are holding on here, and there is still water in the west end of Phantom Lake.

I make the turn at Tower, enjoying the increased green. There are many bison with caves in the swale west of Yellowstone Picnic.

At Junction Pond I see both bighorn sheep and bedded pronghorn.

Little America looks nice and green, and Druid Peak still has snow on top. The area feels more crowded than when I was last here, but thatís normal.

I see a few cars at Crystal so I stop to take a look at the south den. I find the area with ease but donít see anything moving or bedded. Kim and Joyce wave hello so we chat a bit. The wind is quite fierce, so I donít stay too long.

I turn at Slough and drive down the campground road, stopping at my current favorite pullout. From here I find a single black wolf bedded right on the natal den porch. The wind is even more harsh in this location, so I donít stay long.

The water in Lamar Canyon is frothy and thick but not crazy full. But as I make the turn to Lamar, I have to catch my breath! The green, green, green is AMAZING!

I always love the first glimpse of Lamar Valley right here, but when itís green-up time, itís the best of all. A huge grin spreads across my face.

I hear meadowlarks singing despite the wind.

Bill is scoping from Midpoint, so I pull over. He has two bears for me, a pair of sub adults (probably siblings) that have been grazing the east side of Amethyst bench for several days.

The Lamar river looks great, with overflow standing water in lots of places. I hear more meadowlarks around me here.

I thank Bill and continue east. I have been tipped off that a new coyote den has been spotted to the north, just east of the Soda Cone. I stop and find the scraped earth on the hillside but see no animals.

I familiarize myself with the location so Iíll be able to find it again and continue East. Green-up has not arrived at northeast yet. Laurieís yard is a marsh, but the surrounding slopes still look like winter.

Maureen and Rick are here with Laurie & Dan, so we have a merry meeting. We can clearly hear the wind blowing outside. The temp is 36 but the bright sun through the picture windows tricks us into thinking itís much warmer.

After dinner, I convince Maureen and Rick to join me on a drive to Round Prairie, or as far as the coyote den.

But the wind seems to have blown our luck away. We see no wolves nor any coyotes, but we do find 3 mountain goats and then two moose, so itís not a wasted effort.

Today I saw: 2 grizzly bears, bison, an eagle, elk, 3 mountain goats, 1 marmot, 2 moose, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, 1 Junction wolf and the spirits of Allison and Richard


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