Thursday, May 31, 2018

Yellowstone, Day One Memorial Day Weekend, 2018

Each year we try to make a trip to Yellowstone, specifically the Lamar Valley. Living only one hundred and seventy miles away it takes us about four hours to make the drive. The first part of the drive is easy as the speed limit is only fifty-five though the winding and scenic Snake River Canyon. Once we reach Grand Teton National Park, (52 miles), the speed limit varies from thirty-five to forty-five to protect the animals that cross the road.
We didn’t see any bears as we passed through Grand Teton Park, but upon entering Yellowstone and reaching the Hayden Valley, Renita spotted a sow and cub Grizzly bear across the Yellowstone river. The valley was full of buffalo and elk, and the grizzlies were eating grass, although they do actively hunt elk and bison calves!
Our friends George and Val pulled up and George told us they had spotted another grizzly bear, a boar, further down the road.
George and Val had purchased a small camper and joined us in our annual Yellowstone bear and wolf quest.
It wasn’t much further until we reached our camping spot at Canyon Village. The campsites themselves are in what we call a black forest and there was still quite a bit of snow around, but not as much as last year. The reason we stay at Canyon Campground is that it’s the closest place we can find that is open and near the Lamar Valley.
After setting up camp, we all piled into George and Val’s truck and spent the rest of the afternoon looking for wildlife. As we approached Tower junction, an obvious bear jam was taking place! Finding a place to park we walked back to where a black bear sow and her three cubs were feeding. Mama bear would first send her cubs up a tall tree, so she could fill up with grass.
Being up the tall ponderosa pine tree protected the cubs from any boars that may be around, (the boars were kill the cubs to bring the female into estrous). Occasionally, she would call the cubs down the tree and she would nurse them, before sending them back up to safety.
We had also heard that there were more black bears past Tower Junction and returning to the car we passed the junction and only drove three miles before spotting another black bear! This time it was a lone boar also feeding on grass, bears are omnivorous, and will eat anything, including grubs, moth’s bulbs, grass elk, buffalo and deer, (okay you get the idea).
Wanting to show our friends the location of the Slough Creek wolf den, we returned to Tower junction.
Reaching the Slough Creek Turnoff, we saw that there were several groups of cars parked in the wolf viewing spots. Reaching our favorite stand, we were lucky enough to see a dark wolf surrounded by pups, and George also spotted a grey wolf streaking towards the den.
It had been a long day and so we returned to our campsite. The next day we had decided to spend the day wolf watching. The first day had been a wonderful day as we had spotted five black bears, three grizzlies, and two wolves! Clear skies

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