Thursday, June 6, 2013

Yellowstone - Part Three - Wolves continued

We had gone on our first hike of the tour.  It was a short distance and our destination was a former wolf den.  The den had later been taken over as a grizzly for hibernating, so modifications had been made.  Either way, it seemed tiny!  I'm sure both creatures were cursing that large root that obstructed the opening.  I hope that it goes back a lot farther then it looks, because it looks like I could barely fit in it. 

On Day two, we had the carcass in Lamar Valley that had a lot of action  The carcass was in a low spot so I couldn't see it, but was told there was a wolf on it.  I could see two coyotes lurking around and a bunch of ravens.  But then something happened.  That grizzly started coming in as I previously discussed.  The wolf sensed that and was not happy. It started to run down Lamar Valley away from us and the incoming grizzly.   We to choose between the wolf and grizzly.  After watching the grizzly for a bit, we decided to drive down the road to see if we could follow the wolf. 
Wolf realizing a grizzly was coming in.
As we got there, we found out the wolf had already crossed the road was heading up the hill.  We crept along hoping we could catch another glimpse. Sure enough it popped into view for a brief moment before it was again absorbed by the rolling sagebrush. 
Wolf on the move
We ended up last day of the tour with another short hike.  At that point, we could either hike around a small lake or as I had suggested that we spend that time looking for wildlife on the road on our way back.  We were quite a distance from our hotel so there would ample opportunity.  Somehow without a vote, my suggestion had won out.  We were already running terribly late, which I didn't care since I would be twiddling my thumbs back at the cabin.  It was not great wildlife viewing time.  But fate was on our side as we cruised along. I spotted something in the road....."It's a wolf!"...I yelled.  A lone gray wolf was casually and slowly walking away from the road. It was panting and probably was a long run.  We even had a great spot to pull off the road.  Everyone got the chance to take photos. Even the camera phone and point and shoot folks.  Just as it was about to disappear in the sagebrush, it turned around and came back.  It seemed to be checking if it was being followed/chased.  Then back into the sagebrush and it was gone.  Barely anyone else on the road saw this.  Perhaps one other car (Kermit green jeep, I'm thinking of you).  No mob scene. No lunatics getting too close or parking in the middle of the road.  Time seemed to stand still. I can't even tell you how long we were there. It felt like ages.  Long enough to take a million photos and stop and just enjoy what was happening.

No rush! I'm pretty tired.

How's this pose?

Be sure to check out my dark spot scent marker on my tail and notice my long legs. 
The tour was now over and I had a day and a half left at Yellowstone.  On the full day, I tried to "see everything else" at Yellowstone and tried to do it as quickly as possible so that I could drive those same roads as we did on the tour.  It wasn't as much fun since it was just my eyes on the road and I had to worry about parking my car.  I didn't have access to binoculars or spotting scopes.  I had made it back to Lamar on the day I was flying out.  I arrived to another distant carcass being visited by some bears and a lone wolf.  It also was that point of the vacation of when you know it's pretty much over and really really don't want to leave.  You just want to absorb as much as you can so won't forget anything.  The view on this wolf wasn't great at the time, but I got a bonus when I went home and looked at the photos.  I realize now that this wolf was carrying probably a leg in its mouth as it ran off.  I suspect that the wolf had been on the distant carcass , grabbed the leg (too many other visitors), and was now on the move.

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