Friday, August 31, 2007

Update on the Mystery Moth

After some research on the internet, I found the moth I photographed to be a White-lined Sphinx Moth.

Want to know more? Click here and here.

The Week That Was

Mt. Sheridan (almost)

On Wednesday I set out to climb Mt. Sheridan. All 10,320 feet and 24 miles (total) of it. I ended up only being able to do 20 of those 24 miles, because I wore my new hiking shoes and got some wicked blisters. Two miles from the top, the one above my right heel popped and send me back down. So I ended up having to hike out 10 miles with, in the end, 2 popped blisters. Oh what a joyous day!!

But the scenery was amazing. At the base of the mountain is Heart Lake, and it's a huge and gorgeous backcountry lake.

Also I saw another family of Great Gray Owls. What luck. The first one I saw on the way to the mountain as it flew from a tree down to a small stream for a drink of water.

On the way out, blisters and all, I heard another one which turned out to be two of them. One adult and one fledgling. They were really neat and just stayed perched in some trees checking me out as I took their picture. Too cool.

Who's Hungry? Want a hotdog?

On Wednesday night, there was a hotdog eating contest at the pub and of course I was in it. Out of 10 competitors I finished a respectable fourth having eaten 7 hotdogs and 6 buns in 15 minutes. The winner had 7 3/4 hotdogs and 7 1/2 buns. Fortunately noone hurled!

Damn the Blisters!! Full Speed Ahead!! To Osprey Falls that is.

So because I'm either stupid or crazy, on Thursday I decided to hike to Osprey Falls with my friends Micaela, her boyfriend Robert, and Trevor. Because of the blisters, I couldn't wear shoes so I wore my sandals instead. Yeah real smart. Especially considering that the hike to Osprey Falls is 10 miles round trip and you have to climb down into an 800 foot deep canyon in only 0.6 miles which makes for one hella steep trail. But wouldn't you know it, even with the sandals, I was the only person in our group who didn't fall down. Score one for me! The falls were amazing and 150 feet tall. What was the neatest thing was that Osprey Falls actually starts the canyon it's in. Too cool. Check it out.

Random Fun Pictures

This is the biggest moth I've ever seen.

I have no idea what kind of moth it is. So help me out. It's about 4 inches long!!

After our hike of Osprey Falls we stopped in Mammoth for some refreshments and there were elk everywhere. I took this picture of a young elk looking at a magpie on its mother's back.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Another Update of Considerable Size

A Short Hike of Pelican Creek

On Monday Mirka, Ba'ra, and I did the small hike around Pelican Creek. It's one that I've done before, but I did get some really neat pictures of the scenery.

Also when we were leaving the beach area of the hike, there was this gray jay who kept flying right at us. He was so close I could have stuck out my hand and caught him. He was fearless, but I guess he got bored and flew away.

A Day of Geysers and Waterfalls

On Wednesday, I drove over to the western side of the park to do the Mystic Falls trail and also did some sightseeing of the geysers and other waterfalls in the area. It was a very neat day to say the least.

Firehole Falls

White Dome Geyser (which erupted just as I was leaving!)

Sapphire Pool

Mystic Falls (70 ft.) Here I did a little off trail travel and climbed down to the creek downstream from the falls and then climbed up and around some boulders to get right to the base of the falls. Then I had to do some rock climbing to get out of the little canyon I was now in, which was lots of fun. After I had climbed higher I found a little rock washout that led right to the brink of the falls, so I went there. Turns out that at the top of the falls, there is a little hot spring which feeds right into the falls. Probably warms up the water, though I didn't try the water from my perilous perch.

Moving on. The Gibbon Falls. (Big brother to the Little Gibbon Falls from my last post.)

Further on when I was drive back on the road from Norris to Canyon I found a small traffic jam and it turned out to be a cow moose bedded down just off the road. My first moose of the season!!

A Lucky Morning with Magda

On Thursday, my friend Magda from Poland and I went to Canyon because she wanted to do some shopping for her boyfriend back home at the sports shop there. After that, I decided that we had some time before we had to be back for dinner and leave for the Cody Night Rodeo (more on that later), so we took a drive farther north towards Tower Fall to see if we could see any wildlife.

Post Card Worthy?

On the way up we say nothing, but Tower Fall (137 ft.) was very nice.

Then on the way back we encountered a small traffic jam with a ranger and I was thinking bear. Turns out to be a bull moose about 150 yards off the road up a little hill where he was lying down! (2 days, 2 moose)

Later on when we were passing through Hayden Valley, we saw another big group of cars stopped with people out looking through their spotting scopes. A good sign. It turned out to be a mother grizzly and her cub. The sow was beautiful. She looked just like the bears in magazines and the Discovery channel do. She was a fantastic blond color and lit up in the sun so you could see her with you naked eye (about 500 yards off the road). The cub was adorable and was bounding about and following his mother. No pictures as my camera can't do that kind of distance.

Just before we got back home, we saw a little coyote in a field looking for some food.

What a lucky day!

Cody Night Rodeo

Last night, Magda, Justina, Adita (all Polish girls), Ba'ra, and I went to Cody to see the Cody Night Rodeo. On the way out of the park, we saw my third moose in three days! It was a younger cow right along side the road.

The Cody Night Rodeo was a lot of fun and had kids as young as 7 or 8 doing barrel races on horses fit for there size. Some of the girls doing that could make that horse move like lightning! The calf roping was really cool as was the steer wrestling. Unfortunately, no one was able to bull ride for the full 8 seconds last night. Oh well. It was still tons of fun.

29 days....

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Big Update

So because I have updated in a while, and because over the past week I've been extremely busy and seen a lot of things, I'm clumping the last week together in one huge mega entry. Enjoy.

It's Like Wildfire!!
First off, it's fire season in Yellowstone and wouldn't you know it, the lake has become the epicenter for forest fires this year. We've had one fire or another burning continuously across the lake from where I live for the past three weeks. Late last week, the biggest of the fires started up and forced the closure of the East Entrance road. It's still closed more than a week since the fires began. They've also set up a Fire Camp for the firefighters to stay in as they suppress the fire. Pretty neat stuff. Even today there is a fire burning!

Last hike with Jenn.

So Jenn, my YNPBFF, left on Tuesday morning to return home to Billings, MT. But before she went, on Monday, Jenn, Ba'ra (her roommate), and I went for a hike around Ice Lake and to the Little Gibbon Falls. The lake was nothing to write home about, but the falls were awesome. They fell 25 feet and you could climb down to the base and even right up the waterfall itself. Pretty neat.

2 Nights at Grebe and Cascade Lakes with the Birds.

For the first time this season, I was able to go on a back country trip and do some camping in the outdoors away from people. I went with my friend Sue Mae from Malaysia, who had never gone camping before. It proved to be a really good experience.

We intended to go to the lake to camp and fish, but we ended up going on a really awesome bird watching trip. When we reached Cascade Lake, we found a pair of Trumpeter Swans, the largest waterfowl in North America and one of the rarest, and watched them as they cruised around the lake.

When we got to Grebe Lake we saw a ton of ducks, Barrow's Goldeneye and even a few Loons, swimming about under the sunset.

When we woke up in the morning we tried our hand at fishing, but the wind soon picked up and made any attempts at throwing a fly futile. So decided to just lounge around on the beach. Overhead we saw bald eagles, ospreys, and hawks flying about. It was nice.

Around 1pm we left our campsite headed back to Cascade Lake to camp there for the night. Just as we were leaving the lake behind, we saw two ospreys flying really close together overhead. Then out of nowhere a small hawk, not sure of the type, came in flying right at one of the osprey. Turns out the second osprey and the hawk were trying to steal a fish that the first osprey had clutched in its talons!! The osprey and the hawk locked talons twice fighting over the fish and plummeted to the lake below only to let go and fly up just before hitting the ground!! This happened over 5 minutes until the osprey with the fish was able to fly high enough to make its escape.

About half way to Cascade Lake, Sue Mae saw a large bird fly across the trail in front of us. As she was showing me where, another huge bird fly right overhead not more than 10 feet above me!! The birds turned out to be a pair of Great Grey Owls, the largest and one of the rarest owls in North America. They sat in two trees "talking" to each other as they let us take their picture. Then fly off a bit towards what sounded like another owl. Sure enough, there was a third owl a little bit away in another tree. I'm guessing it was their baby as it was a bit smaller than the other two. We ended up watching them for over 30 minutes as they called to one another, some of which I have on video. It was awesome.

When we finally reached Cascade Lake, we set up the tent and went to the lake to filter some water. There we saw two mother ducks, maybe blue winged teals, with their ducklings in two right next to each other. What was odd was that another baby bird was swimming right beside them. It was a Western Grebe and almost looked like it was trying to be a duck. It was follow the ducks, then the ducks would follow it. Too cute.

The next morning we left the campsite as two blue herons fly over some lily pads. It was an amazing trip!

Also my spotting scope came today. Can't wait to try it out!!

37 days...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

What a drive

Pictures coming when the Internet stops being so slow. Sorry.

So last night, my friend Megan from Kentucky and I were sitting at dinner ruminating about how we had nothing to do that evening. I had 4 1/2 hours until I began work at 10pm, and was looking for "anything" to do. I offered up a drive into Hayden Valley to possibly see the wolves, which Megan hadn't done yet.

So we get in my car and head on up to the valley. About halfway in we spot the largest traffic jam I'd ever seen in the park. My first thought was that it's bears, as in the area you sometimes see them. Sure as shit, when we get out and approached the horde of people with spotting scopes we hear bear talk. But not just one bear, or even two bears, no. The people there have seen 5 days throughout the day! Why you ask? Well a large bull bison decided to die on a hillside about 250 yards off the side of the road and grizzlies were scavenging it! When we were there we saw 2 male grizzlies feeding on it. Take a look. (The carcass is under the bear to the bottom right of the picture, with all of the ravens around.)

The one bear in the middle kept chasing the ravens away, it was pretty neat.

After the bears we went to see wolves, but saw nothing. So we continued on towards Canyon. At that time for some reason I was feeling very adventurous so I decided to head west out of Canyon and drive the entire lower loop of the Figure-8 of roads through the park which is about 107 miles! On the drive we saw 2 coyotes, tons of elk, including two huge bulls that were together as seen by the picture below, bison, an osprey, and dumb tourists. Not to mention amazing scenery. It was a great drive!

Also last night I decided that I had had enough of having to borrow someone's spotting scope to see bears/wolves/etc...and I sometimes am alone and want one, so I bought one online last night. It's nowhere near top of the line (I don't have the $3000 for that) but for $175 I picked up a really good scope with an 80mm lens and up to 60x zoom. It's the Celestron Ultima 80mm Angled Spotting Scope. I'll let you all know how it works after I try it out. Hopefully in Glacier National Park next week!