The elk herd is north of the road in Two Dog Flats, the bull urging his cows west into the trees. Two cows play-fight standing on hind legs to paw at each other. Interesting behavior for cow elk. Down the road a bit, another herd grazes. At first it looks like the same herd so I don't pay much attention to them, but hey are the only elk herds we have seen so far. Quite a change from Yellowstone where elk are everywhere and the sound of bugling echoes off the hillsides in autumn.
   We hike to Swiftcurrent Pass today. It's a beautiful trail going through varied terrain - forest, lakes, waterfalls, hills. There is bear sign everywhere. Last night a cow moose with twins and a bear with cubs were at Fishercap Lake, the small lake near the trailhead. Some of the trails accessing these lakes, like Redrock Lake and Bullhead Lake, are not well marked, so we miss Fishercap Lake first time around.
   It's cloudy with intermittent drizzle, but, like our other hikes here, the trail gets better and better. Redrock Lakes has a series of waterfalls we stop to admire and climb a large boulder to get a nice view of the Lake. We stop at Bullhead Lake to enjoy the quiet. At the end of the Bullhead Lake we cross the gravel stream beds and begin climbing the switchbacks up the mountain. Toward the top of the mountain, above a shelf hidden by conifers, bushes and wildflowers is a well disguised dug-out area, a mound of dirt with grass sticking out near a hole in front - the entrance? "What does that look like to you?" Tim asks, already knowing my response. It looks like a bear den - at least the way we imagine one would look. On our return another hiker points out a grizzly foraging on the north side of the trail. Even at a distance he is huge with an unmistakable hump.
   Several small game trails lead to Fishercap Lake, but they run through dense vegetation and are not easily found. We make our way down to the small lake and find a rocky perch to sit on at the shoreline, settling in to wait for something to show up. One and two at a time, campers and other visitors walk along the lake and sit on the shore, some bringing chairs.
   The lake is more like a pond surrounded by tall grasses at the foot of the mountains. A doe and her two fawns walk the opposite shore, the fawns leaping in and out of the lake and chasing each other. Both have lost heir spots, and one is slightly larger, though they must be twins.
   We are enjoying the deer and talking when out of nowhere a cow moose and her calf appear at the shore about 15 feet to my left. My first thought was to move - quickly - out of there as cow moose are notoriously protective, but she waded quietly and slowly into the water, followed by her calf, wary, but unalarmed. We remain still, just watching her. As the two make their way to the middle of the lake, I think of how much moose remind me of horses - the way they move, their ears, the expressions on their faces. Their gentle appearance can be deceiving.
   They glide through the water. The cow dives down into the water to feed on grasses growing on the bottom. She remains submerged for minutes, reappearing with long, dripping wet ears flat against her face - like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh. The calf stays closer to the shore where his feet can touch the bottom, his head above water. He looks a little bewildered by the people watching him. He swims and then walks to shore, shakes himself off and begins to browse. He is a healthy looking fellow, his shiny coat a silvery brown.
   Suddenly we hear a noise from the woods behind us - a sharp snapping and then a sort of woof-grunt. I think "bear", then turn to see huge antlers on a large dark brown body. A bull moose. We scramble to our feet looking in all directions trying to figure out where to move and what to grab. I snatch our binoculars and backpacks and back up the trail.
   The bull grunts, swaying his head from side to side as he walks into the water. He is all business. He stands in the water up to his knees and eyes the cow still in the middle of the lake. He drinks, still watching the cow, then turns and steps up on the path I walked to the lake. We can hear him thrash through the trees as people peer into the woods trying to find him.
   We gather our backpacks and move down the shore, trying to formulate an exit strategy when a second cow moose with twins appears at the eastern edge of the lake where the deer were. The three barely step into the water when the bull reappears and steps into the lake pursuing the cow. The cow trots back and forth nervously, herding her calves away from the bull. The bull goes after the first cow still foraging in the lake. The cow plunges into the lake and begins to bark for her calf realizing he has become separated from her. She swims to the shallow end of the lake, fighting off the bull and runs into the woods, dispersing several people. Her calf that had moved along the shore closer to his mother, but not close enough for her to see him. The bull runs after the cow and that was the last we see of them. We keep looking into the woods to see what will run out next.
   Dark now, the mountains are silhouettes in the distance. The wind starts to blow as we watch the sun set from above Many Glacier Lodge.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2009