As we pass Pebble Creek, a bull moose and a cow graze in the trees at the far end of the meadow, their chocolate coats contrasting with the deep green pines. The sun comes up about 6:30-6-35 a.m. and by 7 a.m. it's light.
    The Sloughs made a kill in the Lamar far up river somewhere near a large stand of cottonwoods. Like the aspen they are a blazing yellow. The wolves are lounging and playing at a site where the Druids used to rendezvous. I count eight, though I understand that all fourteen are present. They are bedded in the long grass and sage, at times invisible except for their ears. We watch them move east again and greet other Sloughs who are coming in from the kill site. After much tail wagging and face licking most of them find places in the grass and a dark eroded area to lie down and rest after a large meal.
    It was a perfect Fall day. The grass looks golden, like wheat. The conifers seem to be a deeper, richer green this Fall. Although it was cold early this morning, it warmed up quickly. By 9:15 a.m. I am comfortable, sitting on a rock on a hill above Jackson turnout, gazing out over the confluence enjoying the site of eight wolves sunning themselves.
    The road from Tower to Canyon and Lake Yellowstone is now open. The construction has made life easier here and the road is really in good shape. We drive toward Hayden Valley and stop at a lookout point on Dunraven Pass to listen to a bull elk bugle. His song echoes in the deep chasm making it sound even more magical. This area of the park is heavily forested mountain. Evidence of past fires is obvious, but so is restoration. Mixed in with deadfall and burned lodge pole pines is plenty of new growth.
    At Hayden Valley we look for the Hayden Pack, but they are nowhere to be seen. Instead we see two very light coyotes hunting in the bends of the Yellowstone River. The coyotes are a very light gray, easily mistaken for the Hayden Pair, who are almost white wolves.
    At Yellowstone Lake we walk along the shoreline, the Beartooth Mountains snow-capped in the distance. Walking on the sand and rocks we see some very unusual material in the water lapping at the shore. It looks like slimy green balls, some the size of grapes and some about the size of small tomatoes. They appear to be filled with a fluid. My guess is that it's some kind of plant or vegetation. (Later we discover it is Nostra, a type of vegetation filled with microorganisms)
    Yellowstone Lake is beautiful this time of year. Huge, it's almost like a fresh water ocean. Ducks bobb in the waves near shore and hot springs and thermal areas sprinkle the shoreline. At Indian Pond more bison gather at the shoreline to drink and graze with several calves from late summer.
    On the way back we stop at Le Hardie Rapids, a section of the Yellowstone River where the water rushes over rocks and pebbles in the river bottom. Merganzers like to swim upriver then surf back on the waves. They also like to sleep curled up on the rocks. They are pretty birds with a reddish brown head that has a comb like a woodpecker.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2006