All photos by
Tim Springer
Christine Baleshta

   Thursday brings early morning snow flurries. At the Park entrance a cow moose and her calf feed in between the cabins near the Ranger Station. Gangly creatures, with long legs and ears, they spook easily and fly into the trees.
    There is a new kill just west of Soda Butte cone on the south side of the creek. 21M is feeding on it while four other Druids lie widely scattered in the brush. 21M feeds for a long while and leaves, probably to go back to the den, and 253M takes his place.
    In the meadows on the other side of Soda Butte cone, a grizzly is digging furiously for ground squirrels. His head is way down in a hole, his butt sticking up in the air. He scours the meadow, sniffing and digging. At one point he lifts his head, nose sniffing the air and we know he smells the carcass. Very slowly he makes his way to the kill, taking a long time. He is constantly distracted by the ground squirrels and stops frequently to dig and chase along the way until the scent of the elk finally becomes irresistible and the bear makes a beeline to the carcass. He charges into the creek and swims across. Reaching the carcass, he plunges his paw into the water and grabs the elk, turning it over and dragging it onto the sand. I will never forget seeing the dead elk's head hanging to the side as the bear yanked its body from the creek. The bear feeds only about 15 minutes and then lies down on the bank near the carcass. A hopeful coyote approaches, but is quickly warned away.
    We take a long hike up Pebble Creek trail this afternoon. It's a beautiful, densely wooded area that is steep at first, but finally opens up into a large meadow above the creek. As we begin from the Pebble Creek campground a coyote with a fat collar sits on the side of the hill surveying workers preparing the campground. Further along the path and into the woods a large bull moose blocks our way. We step over tree trunks and dense brush to go around him. I can understand why people like this trail so much. It curves around the hills high above the sound of the rushing creek. It snows intermittently and the scent of pine trees is everywhere. I find a pair of moose antlers in the ferns alongside the trail and pick them up - they're very heavy! When we reach the meadow we walk down to the creek to rest on a tree trunk and it starts to snow again.
    In the early evening (at Soda Butte cone) the grizzly is still guarding the carcass. 350M is trying to get a bite, but the bear chases him away. The charcoal grey wolf is attempting the three steps forward, two steps back method to get around the grizz, but the bear always manages to lurch forward suddenly and send the wolf into the sage.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2004