It was a stampede. Literally tons of bison charging across the Yellowstone River bridge headed towards Tower.
The few people present in cars stopped right where they were not knowing what to do. We wondered out loud what
the people sitting in the path of the charging beasts thought.
It must have been frightening to see that many bison running toward you and your vehicle.
But this stampede seemed to have good manners because the entire way across the bridge it stayed mostly
in the right hand lane like good Americans,
so no one got hurt. As soon as they reached the other side they slowed to a walk and began milling
around apparently thankful to be alive.
There was something about that bridge they didn't like. When we got to the other side we had to wait
about five minutes before they
cleared out enough for us to pass. I will never forget the sight of all those buffalo running across
that bridge in the right hand lane.
I really don't know what they were thinking. Which is the basic thought that defines my relationship
with bison. They are big,
they are everywhere I go in the park, I'm always around them and they could stomp me into the sedge
grass, but I really don't know what they are thinking.
Are they happy? Are they mad. I don't know. I just keep my distance and try not to annoy them.
I have never seen anyone gored by a bison, but I have seen films of tourists being tossed
into the air like a 6 year old playing with a GI
Joe. The films definitely made an impression on me
and I give them a healthy berth whenever I need to pass by.
I love the bison. They represent a different time to me like a animal who somehow flirted with extinction
but somehow a few slipped through fate's hand and still survives in secret only in Yellowstone and a few other
Bison remind me of no animal but themselves with the huge head, shaggy front, and chaps on their front legs.
They are deceptively fast and typically look just like sedate cows looking for better grass.
The calves of spring (end of May) are irresistably cute. I have spent some nice mornings on the Madison watching
the "little buffaloes" scamper about like big wooly puppies kicking up their heals, running for fun and
then hiding behind mom's immensity.
I've tried to imagine the park without bison and
it just doesn't seem the same at all. Perhaps more than any other animal they make Yellowstone different from other places.
One of the best moments I had my last time in Yellowstone was when we drove near a large herd of bison(150 or so)
at night and shut off the car. We sat there
in the dark and just listened to the bison for 10 minutes or so, all the grunting and snorting and stamping the ground.
It was a defining park moment for me.
Tim Springer - 2004
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