Sunday, 16 June 2013

Yellowstone National Park, WY

We knew we couldn’t fit two of us in at Tower Hill campground, so we were trying for Slough or Pebble Creek out on the Lamar Valley road, which is towards the North East entrance of Yellowstone. If we couldn’t get into either of these we would have to try Mammoth. No time for lunch at the normal hour, we had to go straight there.

We drove past Slough, Full. Not looking good. Lindsay raced on. It was just after two and there were a couple of spots left, two that would take RV’s. Two for us. I’ve lost count of how many campsites we went to last year and got the last or nearly last spot. Our luck is still going it seems. Pebble is really nice with streams running throughout the campground and our own resident bears in the meadow (field) nearby.
Bison
The animal life is very different to last year. And instead of snow we have blue, pink, white and yellow flowers everywhere. We have seen a couple of badgers, black bear and cubs, courting black bears (male and female) and single bears. A grizzly in the distance, way too far away to photograph. Lots of bison, pronghorn and a single moose. The badgers have striped faces and are pretty cute – from a distance. Apparently they are not so friendly. I managed to get a great shot of the male courting bear as he drank from the stream and then had a bath as it was a warm day. We have a couple of cute shots of the badger and her baby too. One time we waited for hours for them to come out of their den, gave up, left to have lunch and came back a few hours later to find them out, and she had only been out for 15 minutes. Sometimes it is just luck or a waiting game. The main thing is that you have to go out and find it, it won’t come to you. Last night Dale and Shelly saw their first moose just a few metres from the entrance to our campground as they were coming home. 

Badgers
black bear cub
Dale and Shelly in their campsite at Pebble Creek
The wolf pack has diminished in size as the alpha female was shot as she crossed over the boundaries of the park. Yellowstone is bordered by three states, two that allow shooting with quotas and one that allows shooting as many as they can. Some animal conservation groups are trying to get a 20 mile buffer around the park to protect the wolves, which is a great idea and we signed their petition. As the alpha female is dead, the alpha male has moved on to find another mate outside the park as the other females in the pack were his, so he can’t mate with them. The pack has now split up. From a pack of eleven in the Lamar Valley last year, there is only a pack of three now. Because the odds of seeing one are so much smaller we haven’t got up at an ridiculous hours to try and spot them. They were sighted this morning, so we might try tomorrow. We went back to Tower Hill campground to see if we could get our trailer in, it will be challenging with tree branches over the entrance. Lindsay is planning to go in the exit road, so we’ll see how well that goes next year! There is one site that we could fit in, so he is planning on camping at Mammoth and driving down really early, to be one of the first one’s in. Then come back and get the trailer and me. Pebble Creek campground opens between 3 and 4 weeks later than Tower Hill, so is not an option next year. It’s only because we were late this year that we are here.


Dale and Shelly left for home today and we are staying another night. So glad we did. Today we made our way down to the Petrified Tree where a black bear sow and her cubs have been sighted. And they were out and about, quite close to the road and down an embankment. We got some great shots, including one of the cubs rubbing itself up against a tree, an iconic photograph. Not long after the rangers (fun police) came to shoo us all away as we were well inside the 100-yard rule.


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