Day One
     Day Two
     Day Three
     Day Four
     Day Five
     Day Six
     Day Seven
     Day Eight


               Day 6 June 6, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013
Silver Gate

    We leave the cabin early today. No wolves this morning in Lamar Valley, but many rambunctious bison calves enjoying the 30 degree weather. On the slopes above Slough Creek, two grizzlies forage in the grass near the carcass. Even Petrified Tree is quiet; the black sow and her cubs are not around this morning.
   We drive down to Hayden Valley once more to look for wolves and bears. Across from Alum Creek several people are staring toward Mary Mountain trail. Two very light gray canids are sniffing around in the grass. They are so light we assume they're Canyon wolves, but after watching them a while, realize they are coyotes. They seem very interested in something in the grass while two elk graze only yards away, undisturbed by their presence.
    The Canyon Pack is at their rendezvous site - at least some of them. Hidden in the trees, one or two wolves are visible moving back and forth. Miles away from Grizzly Overlook, they are tiny forms moving back and forth behind the trees, tiny gray blurs in the spotting scope. The heat waves are terrible. On the river banks below, the same herd of cow elk seen Tuesday edges across the valley with their calves. They move slowly, carefully. Warily.
   We spend the rest of the morning between Mary and Sedge Bays looking for bears, particularly a courting couple we've heard about. On the shore of the Lake at Sedge Bay there are wolf tracks and bear tracks made last night or early this morning, so a bear and a wolf have been here recently. We wait, scanning the hillside covered with deadfall, steam rising from thermals. A marmot stands on a rock patrolling the area. No bears today.
    We give up the bear vigil and hike the beginning of the Howard Eaton Trail from Fishing Bridge. The trail, closed off at the 8-mile point (which is near the Canyon Pack rendezvous site), winds close to the Yellowstone River at first, then stretches out in meadows filled with wildflowers. There it blends into a burned out forest. Tall lodge pole pines lie on the forest floor, a sad sight. The air smells of pine needles. We take the trail as far as LeHardy Rapids and rest on logs high above the Yellowstone River. I love the meadows, so close to Pelican Valley and Hayden Valley, it's like being in either place. Perfect grizzly habitat. Don't forget bear spray.
   Gray clouds threaten rain and we head north. Petrified tree and Elk Creek are a bear jam. The sow and her cubs must be on the hillside, but the road is so crowded with cars and people, we can't see anything. Deep in the ravine at Elk Creek a little black bear forages between fallen logs. Again we are forced to drive past because there is no room to park.
    Hellroaring trailhead is an oasis from the crowds and bear jams, slopes of bright green grass, trees and wildflowers. We search the mountain of scree for pika and weasels; a chipmunk scampers across the rocks. Tim navigates the broken rocks and finds a fox climbing the wall of rock. Finally a pika peeks out. The wildflowers are beautiful here creating a landscape of yellow, blue and green with arrow leaf balsamroot, phlox and forget-me-nots.
   The Lamar Canyon pups were heard howling today from Hiker's Bridge and the Junction Butte Pack has pups too. Wolves from that pack have been seen crossing the road near Boulder early in the morning and late at night, traveling Specimen to Antelope, presumably to hunt. The alpha male is a descendant of 302M. I would love to see this pack.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

Click for larger image

Yellowstone Experiences 2013