The coyotes sang to us in the middle of the night, yipping and howling in some celebration. It was so loud they could have been sitting on the front porch of the cabin.
   It is another warm day and there are not many animals visible. Early this morning about 7:00 a.m. some Druids were at their rendezvous site and then disappeared quickly into the trees. We saw more elk in Gibbon Meadows, Cascade Meadows and Mt. Washburn where the bulls are bugling as they herd their harems, but still haven't seen elk in Lamar Valley. Part of me is not surprised - it's just too warm.
   Today we hiked Mary Mountain Trail, not all the way across to the Nez Perce Creek side, but farther in than we have ever been able to reach - maybe five miles. Each time we attempted the trial, it was half under water - or snow. Today, in Indian summer conditions, there are still marshy areas, but it's predominantly dry.
   We follow the trail, glittering with obsidian, into the middle of a large, gently rolling area of grass and sage bordered by pine trees. Hayden Valley is the valley of grizzlies and now wolves. Alum Creek meanders past us while bison test the water and take dirt baths in the hot sun. We walk off trail once or twice to avoid a few almost belligerent bison.
   Now we have hiked both sides of the valley. Crossing through hypnotizes me. It is one long, rolling meadow broken by stands of pine trees. Seeing the expanse of this place, which seems to go on and on, we wonder out loud why wolves, or any other animal, would choose to stay near the road. Perhaps humans provide some protection from their animal enemies.
   We also walked along Lake Yellowstone today. The ripples in the water and steam rising from the lake make it look surreal. A single bison grazes next to the pond surrounded by thermals on the opposite side of the road. Up above a bald eagle is carried up and down by wind currents from the Lake.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2008