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Our last morning is the beginning of a beautiful day in Yellowstone.
Even at 6:00 a.m. the sun is out reflecting off last night's snow. The road is clear,
but the trees and grass wear white. Strangely, it seems warmer than the past mornings
this week and a low fog hangs over the Lamar Valley.
We pass a moose in its usual meadow to the west of Pebble Creek and the grizzly laying on
the carcass in Soda Butte Creek. Still guarding his meal. The water is iced over a little
and the bear's head is crowned with frost. I can't wait to see that picture. Frosty bear.
The Druids are out in Lamar Valley.
We hear on the radio they chased an elk that ran into
the River and escaped. When we park at Midpoint the wolves are bedded down on the south side
of the Lamar near the cottonwoods, hidden by the morning fog. So we wait in the car, looking
through our binoculars through the windshield, seeing nothing but grey. The fog lifts
and soon we see one black wolf lying
in the grass and then a black and grey. 21M comes in from the west and swims across the
river to the south bank. There the other wolves run to
meet him with wagging tails.
21M has blood on his head above his right eye. At first we speculate that
the elk he was chasing kicked him, but he swims the river just fine and does not appear
to be injured. The blood must have come from the elk, who Rick said had blood on its
flank. 21M lay down and licked his paws and body. Now I think he's washing himself
off. There isn't much activity after that, the wolves just lying in the sun. They howl
breaking the roadside chatter with their haunting music.
We stop in Little America one last time to check on U-Black. One pup and an adult are
sleeping far in the back of the clearing under the trees. At Tower Junction a black bear
climbs the hillside west of the Ranger Station. Elk, deer, bison and bison calves are
The hotel in Mammoth opens today and the Park will be crowded. My tolerance for crowds weakens
each trip. I am grateful that we have time to leave the Park slowly, allowing us a
chance to savor our last moments until the next time. We pass Wraith Falls and notice
a carcass there is nearly picked clean. By the time we reach the airport it's sunny
and warm. I would have liked to have had another day like this in the Park.
Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer
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