All photos by
Tim Springer
Christine Baleshta

   Tuesday morning turns cold and damp with intermittent drizzle, rain and snow. The sun teases us every now and then, coming out at Tower Junction and then disappearing into a very grey day. We reach Lamar Valley a little after 7 a.m. and drive straight to Midway where people are already watching the Druids at a bison carcass. 21M, stuffed, is laying on his side in the sand while a grey, a charcoal grey and a black wolf feed. Another wolf is bedded down near 21M.
   Down the road near Fisherman's, a grizzly ambles across the valley. He sniffs along the north side of the water, Canada geese screeching at him, maybe protecting a nest. The great bear looks around and sniffs the air before entering the river. He plunges in and paddles past a sandbar, just missing some dead trees across to the bank below Jasper Bench. Stepping on to the sand he shakes vigorously and ambles up into the trees like he does this all the time.
    In Little America, U-Black and the grey male are visible for a while. They lay on their sides in the shade of a single tree in the tiny meadow. Now and then they lift their heads to show us we are really looking at wolves. Someone saw a pup appear earlier, but we are not that lucky.
    The sun finally comes out and we walk up the road to Tower, which is still closed to vehicles, to see if "Rosie" is there. Far up the road a black bear is feeding alongside the road. We watch her go back and forth across the road and climb through the trees on the hill. We are not bothering her at all. We hear there are two black bear cubs this year, but this bear is alone.
    Back near the rendezvous site, a grizzly is lying on the carcass, protecting it and feeding on it. A large black wolf leaves the river bed and trots east, limping slightly. 253M. I take my eyes off him for a minute and he's gone. About 60 minutes later, another grizzly comes out from the trees on Amethyst Bench, walking in the direction of the carcass. This grizzly is a huge silverback. The other bear sees him and steps away from the carcass. They dance circles around each other, but don't get too close. While the bears are negotiating, a grey wolf feeds on the carcass, but jumps away in time to avoid the two bears. The first grizzly sits back on his haunches and watches the silverback take his place while the wolf lies down in the riverbed and waits for his next chance.
    There are many atypical occurrences this denning season. Unlike last spring, and the year before, the Druids are very visible. We wonder how they can be out and about so much with pups - and there may be three litters! We have not seen them cross the road at all, much less to the den. Except for 375F of course. Last year we barely saw the Druids coming and going, if that. This year we have seen them every day so far.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2004