All photos by
Tim Springer
Christine Baleshta

   We got a late start, leaving Cooke City about 7:10 a.m. It was cloudy, but blue sky was breaking through and there was no fog. Except for bison and elk, the Lamar Valley was quiet. Each day we see more calves, astounded by what their little spindly legs can do. This evening in Little America I noticed one nursing. It's an amazing site, these new little ones, golden brown, with little humps and dark brown eyes and noses. When we arrived at Daves Hill to see the Slough Creek Pack's pups it was pretty quiet. We did see two adults and one pup at the den site. The "den site" is actually four dens dug into the hillside and a main den below. There are four mothers and there is no certainty as to which females actually had litters or how many pups. But all four were seen carrying pups to the main den. We saw the wolves below the dens around some aspen and fallen logs. One adult appeared multi-colored - black and gray and white. The other was black and grey. There wasn't much activity. The den is very far away, at least 1.7 miles, so I could barely see them and there could have been more. Comparing it to U-Black's puppies and den of last year is difficult. U-Black's puppies were shape and color and movement. It's almost as if I'm viewing the Slough Creek Pack in a blur. At Tower we walked up the closed road to find a black bear sow and a year-old cub asleep at the base of a large tree. Walking up the road, all that could be seen was a black shape at the base of the tree. It looked like a black cat sleeping at the base of a tree. When I looked through binoculars there were ears attached to a head. We watched from the other side of the tree and saw the mother and cub dozing, the cub resting its head on its mother's body. Farther up the road and looking down into the river canyon we found three osprey nests. We could see directly into one nest where a pair of ospreys fidgeted, pulling a twig here and there, but we didn't see any eggs. Hiking back down the road, we found the black bear sow and her cub foraging in a meadow. For a while the cub stopped and played with something in the grass and then the bears worked their way down the meadow. At one point the sow looked like she wanted to cross the road, looking back at her cub, who wasn't paying attention. She crossed the road, but the cub didn't. The sow then crossed back and the two continued feeding on the north side of the road until the cub started to cross. He was distracted by a puddle and began to drink from it. The sow joined him until a car came down the road, chasing the cub straight toward us. We backed down the hill leaving the bears still in the road. This afternoon we hiked Rescue Creek Trail. There was a group of six big horn sheep rams on the hillside, four in full curl. We hiked farther back than we did the first time we hiked this trail several years ago, startling a group of mule deer. It's beautiful back in towards the junction with the Specimen Ridge Trail. The meadows are filled with stands of aspen and tiny yellow flowers growing very close to the ground. We also saw lots of flowers which look like very small lavender tulips. Junkos flit by everywhere. At the end of the trail we surprised a pair of Canadian geese with goslings waddling along the river. The goslings are little yellow, fuzzy things and stay close to their parents, following their every move. The river was very fast and rocky here - it looked a little too dangerous for little ones. We saw our first coyote of the trip in Little America. There don't seem to be as many this year. Medium sized, a blend of tan and grey and black, he limped across the road. He was shedding and his coat was a mix of tufts of different colored fur. By 8:00 p.m., visibility was poor. The drive back to Cooke City was dark and quiet, but we did see plenty of bison in and along the road, and elk.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2005