Yellowstone – Life Abounds

May 03, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

A First Visit to Yellowstone

For me, this is my first visit to Yellowstone.   Jaye’d been here a long time ago.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Getting on the plane I had high hopes we’d see some animals.   I was pretty sure we’d see the geysers, mud pots and prism pool but animals roam.   After my “Wild Moose Chase” last May when I drove traveled a full day and only saw 1 moose and at that it was only his hind end as he walked into the woods – I was expecting to have to search and search.

Then about 15 minutes in to the park…..

How do I express the excitement of seeing my first buffalo? 

They are EVERYWHERE!   They are coming down from their winter pastures.   There is still quite a bit of snow on the ground so they use the roads – it’s so much easier to walk the roads than trudging through the snow.   They seem to be pretty used to the cars going by as long as you pass them slowly.   Just don’t startle them – don’t want a dent in the side of the rental car.

 

They eat the grass on the side of the road.

It’s calving season.  The babies are cute.

Then there are the Elk

The elk herds have come down from the mountains.   The grasses taste good in the valleys.

We’ve seen mostly females and young animals.

Monday we drove out of the park and a ways up into the surrounding mountains to find bighorn sheep and a herd of Elk one of the locals told us about.   Then we went into the park and the elk were everywhere.   Guess we should have stuck to the park to find them!

Of course I’ve been into taking photos…. and so was Jaye!

Going to See Old Faithful
This first day our destination was Old Faithful.   This seemed like a very good place to start; one of the icons of Yellowstone.   Because I stopped at every buffalo and elk along the way it took us a very long time to get there.   It’s all about the journey right?!

But the destination was phenomenal.   The snow is deep but the paths are clear.

 

We got there with enough time to walk through the visitor center then get a front row seat.  20 minutes later Old Failthful was true to it’s name – and the show was outstanding!

 

Right before it went off the rangers came by and told the crowd to check out the Beehive Geyser after seeing Old Faithful.   Apparently they run off the same subterrianian pool of water and Beehive shoots much higher than Old Faithful.   They weren’t kidding!

At this point the clouds were starting to roll in and were threatening more snow —- so we started heading back.   It took hours to get here so it seemed like a good idea.   Little did we know I’d miss the exit turn and we’d take the scenic route…. but on the way out….

A Fox on the Plain

On the way out of the park we pulled up behind a bunch of stopped cars.   Out on plain, along the river we got to see this silver fox on the hunt.   He caught something while we watched.   What a sight to see.

Second Day – On to Mammoth Hot Springs

We took a round about way into the park Monday.   One of the local guys at the resort told about a rock slide area where we’d likely find the bighorn sheep so we took that route into the park.

Again we were fortunate and we found them!   The drive was gorgeous.  So — no elk but lots of sheep and beautiful mountains!

They are so graceful as they work their way up and down the side of a steep slope covered in very loose rock!

On to Mammoth- Nope – Had to Stop for an Osprey

Once inside the park we came upon more stopped cars and photographers with 500-600mm lens.   We stopped to see what they were looking at.  It was an Osprey in the tree with a fish.   We jumped out with all my gear and watched this magnificent bird eat his lunch.

 
Next Stop Mammoth … Nope More Buffalo
And Jaye Befriends a Raven
 
I’m absorbed in photographing the buffalo and this raven comes walking up to the side of the car on a high snow bank and starts talking to Jaye.  It wanted food.   Since you’re not supposed to feed any of the animals Jaye didn’t give it any but asked for quite a while.   She got this shot of her new friend.
 

On to Mammoth … Nope … Now We Stop for the Black Bear

We’re almost there!   Wait there are a lot of cars pulled over to the side of the road – on both sides —- couldn’t pass them if we wanted to …

What are they looking at?   What’s that up there?   IT’S A BLACK BEAR!!!!  

We pulled over and got out the gear and stuck near the car.

I couldn’t believe it – one dad put his kids up on top of the snow bank off the road so they could see the bear…..   Can you say “LUNCH”?   Fortunately the bear wasn’t interested.

But he was watching.

On to Mammoth … This Time for Real

It was a long drive but what a sight!!!!

The water is heated by the magma below the surface.   As it bubbles up through the limestone it deposits the limestone as to rolls down hill leaving behind a stairstep terraces.   The superheated water steams as it hits the surface giving the area a other-worldly feel.

The bacteria that live in the pools give the terraces their brillant colors.

The birds dance through the scalding hot water as if it was “room” temperature looking for food.  How do they do that without frying their feet?

 

We enjoyed the lower terraces – then began to climb.

We didn’t go all the way to the top – but nearly.  Other climbers on the way told us that we’d already found the best part.   What a view.

The Afternoon is Nearly Gone – Time to Head Back

All along the way I keep seeing the old dead trees towering over the new growth.   We stopped for a quick photo.

Then turned around to see this coyote hunting in the field near the road.

That’s it for this post…..
Some of the shots here were taken by Jaye!


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