"I knew full well that most (Asiatic Swamp)buffalo will lumber away at
the first whiff of human scent, but, as with grizzlies, it's the rest
that demand undivided attention."
-E Donnall Thomas Jr.

    We leave Lake Hotel about 6:45 when it is just beginning to turn light. It's a very peaceful morning. Waves lap gently against the shore as we drive Gull Point and walk to the tip of the small peninsula. Ducks glide across a small pond, while geese fly overhead. Their call echoes in the peaceful morning. We drove up and down the road turning towards Sedge Bay and Mary Bay. Steam rises off the lake. We are looking for owls - actually, we're looking for anything.
   We search Virginia Cascades Drive looking for the Canyon Group. After not finding any wildlife, we hike back into Pelican Valley to see the Mollies again. I am wondering if the wolves are still there and if they have been pushed off the carcass completely.
   We find our seats on the ridge and spot the bend in the creek where the wolves and bears were. The carcass has been pulled to the right bank of the creek. One bear is feeding on it while the wolves walk around. Two light gray wolves step into the water, drinking and wading. A second bear comes in from the right. He is huge, but lighter than the dark brown bear who sat on the carcass yesterday. He passes the wolves and makes his way down to the creek bottom. The wolves and bears seem to tolerate each other very well - it's like they know each other. There is no fighting at all. One gray wolf in the creek moves quickly out of the lighter bear's way and jumps up on the bank. The other bear still has its head down and is feeding on the elk.
   The big silver brown grizzly starts to walk across a gravel bar, his head in the air, sniffing and opening and closing his jaws. The wind is not in our favor today - the bear is tasting the air and has caught our scent. Maybe he is confused, but he keeps walking in our direction, sniffing and snapping his jaws. He is not ambling, but walking with purpose.
   When the bear crosses the creek I begin to feel nervous - maybe it was before that. I can't tell how far away he is, but I can see him a little too well without my binoculars, maybe 150 yards. I hear myself say, "What do you think?" and Tim answers, "We're out of here." I don't think I've ever hiked out of an area so fast. I kicked up dust the whole way back.
   We celebrate our "escape" with ice cream at the General Store and take one more drive down to Gull Point to enjoy the rest of the Fall afternoon on the on the Lake.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2008