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               Day 7 June 7, 2013

Friday, June 7, 2013
Silver Gate

    In Little America a pronghorn doe watches her newborn fawn. Tiny fairy child animal. They are so fragile looking, like something out of a fantasy story. The doe leaves her fawn hidden in tall vegetation and goes off to graze. Later he pops out of the sage and follows her toward the creek, racing around her legs. Even newborn they are fast.
   Today we are wolfless. The Canyons have a carcass near their rendezvous site, but we do not want to make the trip through Tower again. We stop at Boulder to look for the Junction Butte Pack from Boulder. I am unfamiliar with the pack except for "Puff", who came from the Blacktail Pack, while most of the Junction Butte's are former Mollies. There are only 2 collared wolves, 889M and 890M, but those wolves are often away from the pack, so the group is hard to track. Their territory extends from Hellroaring to Slough Creek, some of it the same as the Cottonwood Pack's. Laurie thinks that because 527F stayed so high she was able to survive. In the end, being so close to the Park's edge got her killed. Sad, sad memories. I wish we could see at least one Junction Butte wolf, but they are hard to follow. We scan the ridges and rocky outcrops miles away and see no wolves. I find a dark spot that seems to have a wolf's ears and nose, but it doesn't move. Later tonight, when we stop again, I cannot find that spot.
    Just down the road a black bear crosses near Specimen and loops around. He forages in the grass, walking past Junction Butte over the hills toward the pond. He disappears in the sage and pops up running toward the trees, a rabbit dangling from his mouth. He finds a shady spot beneath the trees to enjoy his prize for a long while. The road is lined with people holding cameras and Tim and I have a clear view from the grassy meadow west of the pond. After an hour or so, the bear finally leaves his comfortable bed and walks leisurely into the meadow toward the pond again - toward our spotting scope. A ranger shoos everyone away from the bear and I walk quickly to the road, leaving the spotting scope. Photographers and visitors continue to follow the bear who walks right past the scope, down the road, all the way across the Yellowstone Bridge.
    This afternoon is cloudy, but rain holds off. We hike to Lost Lake Falls along the grassy shores of the small lake. The meadows here, too, are filled with wildflowers. A coyote with a beautiful beige coat walks out of the woods, stops and looks at us before continuing into the trees. The trail, which goes all the way to Tower Campground, crosses a creek where a marmot scolds us from a tree limb overhanging the rushing water. The hike is short and worth the climb to see the falls and overlook Roosevelt Lodge and Tower Junction. On the way back, we startle a white tailed deer. It leaps into the woods, it's white tail straight up, waving like a fluffy white fan.
    The last night in Silver Gate; the last night in the Park. A fox kit peeks out from the safety of its den under a metal shed at the corral. The cute little fox is curious and maybe a little too friendly, walking up to a few photographers just outside the fence. There is another kit somewhere nearby in the tall grass. I look up to the mountains and spot a mountain goat walking carefully on the rocky ledges. In the darkness, Wall Mountain casts an eerie glow. The night before last Tim was taking star shots and heard rustling, the rustling of a large animal. He said he was scared.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2013