Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Silver Gate, Montana

    The sun rises over Jackson as we head toward Grand Teton National Park. Pearl Street Market is already serving customers as we weave through downtown and pass the National Elk Refuge. The Bridger Teton Mountains rise in the east, studded with pine trees. Almost hidden at the edge of the trees is a moose, maybe the same moose we saw yesterday. The road winds through sage flats, following the bend of the Snake River. On the slopes above Schwabacher Landing, Tim spots a bull moose and a cow, deep in the brush. Farther up the road, what seems like a hundred antelope graze inside and outside fenced pastures. In back of Lake Jackson Lodge two pairs of moose cows and calves graze contentedly in the willows. Despite their dark color and enormity, they are difficult to see. At first all that is visible of one cow is an ear -until the cow moves out in the open one can't even tell it's a moose. The small herd of elk is still there also, their white rumps sticking up in the tall grass.
   As we drive toward Yellowstone, Lake Jackson stretches out on the east side of the highway. We pass Grand Teton National Forest and go through burned forest, now recovering. Bay Bridge campground is closed for the season and barricaded. Lake Yellowstone is brilliant in the sunlight, whitecaps dancing on the water; a bald eagle circling overhead.
   Passing Fishing Bridge, a coyote hunts in a meadow along the road. Late morning is quiet in Hayden Valley. At Grizzly Lookout, several vehicles wait, watching for the Canyon Pack. All we see are hikers making their way on the Howard Eaton Trail. Everywhere the grass is golden yellow contrasting against the deep green of pines. Here too, cottonwoods have turned blazing yellow, as have the aspens, some displaying a combination of yellow, green and orange.
   We set out from Artist's Point on the Howard Eaton Trail through rolling hills of grass, sage and stands of conifers. Not far along, we come across some grizzly scat. I'm a little uncomfortable because this trail is near the site where a man was killed last year by a grizzly sow, but I like this trail because it's open and you can see out. There is plenty of bear sign - scat and tree scratches. The Hayden Pack used to travel through this area and now the Canyon Pack does. We reach a point where we can see Grizzly Overlook and the Canyon rendezvous site and stop to rest in a stand of lodge pole pines. The trees sway and creak in the wind. There are no bears or wolves today, but we hear the faint bugle of an elk, muted by the wind. Clouds are rolling in and cold, rainy weather is predicted for tomorrow.
   Everywhere in the Park shows evidence of construction or road improvements. At Indian Creek Campground the Bridge is torn down. Dunraven Pass is closed, the road barricaded at Tower and Canyon. Even the road to Tower has been torn up. Across from Boulder in Little America, I spot something moving past aspen in the hills. It looks like a bison, but silvery, and it moves - not like a bison. The silver and chocolate brown grizzly moves up the hill and then behind the bench and disappears. We drive back and forth trying to find him, hoping he will show himself again. A young couple in a jeep pulls up, hops out of their vehicle and runs up the hill. They have obviously seen the bear, too, and decided to get a closer look. We wait at the road with a couple of other visitors waiting to see what happens, but neither the couple or the bear reappears.
   The Lamar Canyons were seen near Round Prairie this morning and supposedly have a carcass near Barronnette Peak. We pass Rick McIntyre waiting there on our way to Silver Gate. No wolves for us tonight, but probably tomorrow. We're glad to be back in Silver Gate, in the Annex this time. We didn't know what to expect, but we like it very much. It's like a little cabin with three separate rooms. Quite spacious and comfortable.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2012