Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bozeman and Bears. Wolves too.

So yesterday three Czech girls, Bada, Mischa, and Mirka, and I went to Bozeman, MT. They were shopping, I was picking up some things from Wal-Mart and the like that I needed. Despite the fact that it was hot, it was a nice day and an even nicer drive.

Once back in the park, instead of taking the way we took to get to Bozeman, I took a different and longer route figuring that we might have a chance to see some more wildlife. Boy was I right. After eating eating in Mammoth, we set out towards Tower-Roosevelt and not more than 3 miles East of Mammoth we came across a big traffic jam with people getting out of their cars right in the middle of the road. I said to the girls, "This is a bear." Well I was partially right as it was just one bear, but a sow black bear and her two cubs! The sow was pretty small but totally unafraid of the people who were only 40 yards away. Her cubs were playing around and one even went up a tree!

After that awesome encounter we continued onward and just South of Tower we say another group of people stopped along side the road, and it was another bear. But I only saw the butt of this one for about 2 seconds before it disappeared into forest so no pictures.

Then about 15 minutes later on our drive up the side of Mt. Washburn we see even more people stopped on the side of the road. Now I knew ahead of time that this area is great for seeing grizzlies, at a distance, so I figured it was one of them. It was but unfortunately not 3 minutes before we got there the grizzly had gone into some trees and couldn't be seen. We waited 15 minutes, but saw nothing so we moved on.

About 30 minutes after that we were driving through the beginning of Hayden Valley just south of Canyon. This is the same area where I had seen the wolves last week, but from which they were supposed to have moved. We apparently they moved 2 miles further south and about a half mile off the road because as we rounded a turn I saw the kind of mass stoppage that only wolves can create. Sure enough the same wolves from last week were out in the valley across the river.

At first I only saw the two Alphas lying down which only looked like two gray patches in the grass. But then about 15 minutes after we got there, two puppies came out from the woods and began playing with each other. It was awesome. Because they were over a half mile away, I have no pictures, but through the spotting scopes that people had set up you could see them perfectly. The two I saw were both gray and black and about 25 to 30 pounds. They were very rambunctious and having a good time.

That drive home ended up being a lot more interesting than I had anticipated, hopefully I can have another one like it soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My Peeps

Since I've been talking about them since I've arrived, I figured that I should post up some pictures of the friends I've made since I've been here.

Here's Josh from Memphis, TN just after he's had a drink which apparently didn't agree with his stomach all that well.

Josh, 25, is a pretty cool dude who now plans on moving to Montana to finish up college.
Jen(nifer) from Billings, MT shows us how the EDR food can be used as a super strong adhesive when you need it.

Jen, 25, has become like a sister to me since I've been here as we have very similar personalities and senses of humor. Basically the two of us like to gang up on and make fun of the others, but always in good taste.

Robyn from Helena, MT hiding in a burned out tree on our Fairy Falls hike.

Robyn, at 20, is the youngest in the group and by far the most innocent and is a never ending source of laughter.

Hil(ary) from DeWitt, MI shows us the proper technique to randomly point at nothing in order to cause tourons to stop.

Hil has that typically Michigan girl attitude and doesn't take shit from nobody, which makes her an absolute blast to hang out with as she's always in a great mood.

Well they there are, me peeps in Yellowstone.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fairy Falls

This morning my friend Robyn and I hiked to Fairy Falls, the 4th highest waterfall in the park. It was one hell of a hot hike as the temperature at 9am was already nearing 90 degrees. On the trail about a mile in we came across a bull elk who was blocking our path, and did so for fifteen minutes. We got pretty close to him too, but he didn't seem to mind our presence.

Just a bit past Fairy Falls was Spray Geyser which is a peculiar little thing as it never gets more than 6 or 8 feet high, but is going off continuously.

Monday, July 23, 2007

(Tom?) Riddle Lake

While no mystery, I hiked to Riddle Lake Friday morning and took some nice pictures.

Date of Photo: July 20th.

Friday night I went to the Columbian Independence Day party at our employee pub. Let's just say I had a great night and a not so great morning/early afternoon on Saturday.

Then basically Saturday afternoon through Sunday evening I began and finished reading the seventh Harry Potter book which I had delivered to me here at the park. No spoilers, except to say that it was a great ending to the series.

Friday, July 20, 2007

More Wolf Sightings

So after first seeing the one wolf Wednesday night, I've been back three times; Thursday morning and night, and Friday morning. On Thursday morning, I saw the Alpha Male and Alpha Female of the pack hanging out on the hillside. They were just lounging around and then got up and left around 10:30am, two hours after I had gotten there.

In the first picture, the Alpha Male and Female can be seen lying down in front of the double-trunked tree at the top of the small hill just inside the shade behind some sagebrush. It's hard to tell as they look like gray rocks, but compare the photo the the following ones and the difference you see is the wolves.

In this photo, the the right and in front of the double-trunked tree, the Alpha Female is standing up. Again, due to the distance she appears to be a gray rock.

In the next two shots, I hope the wolf in the picture is pretty evident. It's the Alpha Female just before she took off. I missed a picture of her as she passed across the lit up green area in the foreground, but she was lit up all white like a ghost. It was awesome.

Last night, I saw the two beta wolves of the pack, but only for a few fleeting seconds as they dashed across the little valley. I didn't have time to react, let alone get a picture. But just before I saw them, you could hear a faint wolf howl. Very sweet!!

Sadly though, this morning the wolves were gone. Just before I got there last night, two pups were seeing crossing the little valley in the pictures. Then about 9pm, after I had left, the people there saw two hikers on the other side of the river, on a closed trail in forbidden territory to protect the wolves. That was the second night in a row with hikers. And also last night a male wolf, the beta, was seen near the road but some people watching got out of their cars and approached them and spooked him.

I was talking to Bill, the head wolf ranger this morning, and he's worried that the increased human activity has spooked them away from their den and primary rendezvous site, and that they now have moved to their secondary site about 2 miles away in Hayden Valley where the closest view of them is about 1500 yards compared to 200. So that really sucks that some stupid people had to ruin it for everyone else. Oh well.

This is a picture of the people who were watching for wolves last night.

Tonight, I'll post up some artsy-fartsy shots of the scenery that I've taken. Later ya'll.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wolves and Reflections

So for the past few days my friends and I have been hearing that wolves have been spotted at a place called Otter Creek (about 15 miles north of where I'm at). So tonight we decided to drive on up there to see what we could see. And that turned out to be the Alpha Male of the wolf pack!! He was huge, about 130 pounds, and was gray with a little bit of red/brown on his shoulders. I had to borrow someone's spotting scope to get a good look because he was about 300 yards away across the river.

I took some pictures with my camera, but he was laying down and my camera doesn't handle low light well so they all came out grainy. Sucks. But here is one of the area.

And a close up with the wolf lying down circled in red. He's the white dot.

Which brings me to my next point: Colin needs a new Digital SLR camera with a huge ass telephoto lens. Send donations to the address listed in a previous entry. Thank you for your contributions.

Also on the way there the Yellowstone River was absolutely calm so here are some really beautiful photos I took of it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Buffalos and Other Things

Not much of a story to accompany this pictures. Just that when I was working yesterday, a small group of 8 buffaloes decided to walk right by the dorms and settle down in front of the dorm I was cleaning.

This morning I went on another short hike of Storm Point, this time with my camera. No awesome sunset, but still some good pictures.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The End of Third Week (with lots o' pictures)

After my sprained ankle healed up, I was back on the trails. Me and Hilary, a girl from just north of Lansing, MI, went on a hike yesterday. On the way there we saw two elk. One with a huge rack, the other standing in the middle of the Yellowstone River.

Nice Rack

The trail we were going to hike was the 15 mile long Howard Eaton trail that connects the Canyon area to Fishing Bridge. We had to turn around only a mile in because a buffalo herd was directly in our path. The trail in the picture below is the one we were supposed to follow.

Yeah, we turned around.

So instead we decided to hike Grebe Lake. On the way, we saw a coyote as it crossed the road in front of us.

The path on the way to the long went through an area of forest that had been decimated in the '88 fires, and it was kind of creepy.

The lake was really tranquil, but full of horse flys, which sucked. At the far end of the lake we could see two Trumpeter swans (highly endangered) but we were too far away for a picture that would be more than just two white dots.

After the lake hike on the way back to our dorms, we stopped at the La Hardy rapids on the Yellowstone River where some pelicans were hanging out looking for some trout to snatch up.


This morning Hilary, Jen, Josh, and I hiked to the Lake Overlook near Grant Village where we got an awesome view of the lake and even the Tetons. At the top we even saw an Osprey nest.

Then the clouds started to roll in with the thunder and the lightning and it was time to go. We ended up getting drenched for about a half mile of run/walking.

Well that's the end of my third week, more to come as I've bought myself a fly-fishing rod and reel and am going to start fishing as soon as possible. Later.

Hiking in Yellowstone makes you dirty as my bathtub can attest.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Swollen Ankles, Beautiful Sunsets

So somehow Saturday evening or Sunday morning I managed to sprain/roll my ankle without knowing it. On Sunday morning I realized that my ankle hurt. Sure enough it was pretty swollen and stiff. How I did it, I don't know, but here is a picture of my big ankle. On the left is my normal ankle, on the right the sprained ankle. Fun times!!

Also two nights ago we had a really neat looking sunset. Here are some pictures of it.

Also I've been contemplating trying to change jobs here. The RC job, while easy and higher paying than most, kinda sucks for a 22 year old. My nights are shot 5 days out of the week and the hours are really screwy. Basically I came here to have fun while also working, but the work is becoming too much of the central part of my stay. I'm thinking of joining the housekeeping staff at the Lake Lodge, where most of my friends work, where I know I'll have a better time despite the harder work. More to come on this for sure.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Hikes and Headaches

So over the last 4 days, I've gone hiking each day. Unfortunately for me though, I've also had an almost constant headache during that time as well. I don't know if it's something in the air, the altitude, or what but it's really starting to bother me and Ibuprofen has proven useless.

Anywho, the hikes I went on were awesome.

The first hike was Wednesday morning when me and Josh hiked to the top of Elephant Back Mountain. It's just behind the dorm where I live and after a 1,000 ft climb shows a great view of the lake.

The darker patterns in the lake were being caused by wind over the lake and I could see them move with the wind. The building on the right is the Lake Hotel and just in front of that, the brown buildings are my dorm complex.

On Thursday evening Josh, Jen, Robyn, Hillary and I went hiking to Storm Point which was just awesome. The sun setting behind the clouds was amazing, but unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me as I didn't know I was going on the hike ahead of time, I just kind of fell into it. Maybe I'll get one of the other's pictures to put up here.

Then on Friday the same group as before went hiking up around the Roosevelt area of the park and went on the Lost Lake/Petrified Tree trail. It was pretty strenuous at the start, gaining about 800 feet in less than a quarter of a mile but soon leveled out. But man was it hot. The petrified tree was pretty neat to see and was a redwood over 50 million years old.

This is the last standing of 3 petrified redwoods found on this site. The other two had been destroyed by people talking off chips of them for souvenirs, hence the fence around this one. The girl see up top is my new friend Robyn from Montana.

Lastly, on Saturday me and Josh went on a 6 mile hike on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We started out in some meadows, walked through a wasteland, and finally walked along the rim of the canyon and saw the upper and lower falls.

This wasteland was created by the thermal features found here as they killed off all of the vegetation. You can see how it is completed encircled by the forest. There was steam vent holes here that were over 20 feet across!

An Ansel Adams-esque shot of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

If I were to step off the back of the boulder I'm standing on, it would be a 2,500 foot sheer drop to the canyon floor. Fortunately I'm pretty surefooted.

The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.

The Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River

Later that evening I went for a drive to pick up Robyn and Hilary who had went on a long hike (28 miles) for the day. They ended up being almost 2 hours behind their scheduled time due to a storm and 2 bear encounters. Fortunately for them the bears (1 black, 1 grizzly) in both cases were afraid of the girls and ran away. And fortunately for me, I got to spend some more time along the Eastern edge of the lake where I took this sweet shot of the sunsetting. The little black dots you can see are actually gulls as there was a huge flock of about 100 gulls in front of me when I took the shot.

Well that brings an end to my second week away from home. Time to start the third and hopefully find an end to all these damned headaches.