It is a relatively quiet day in some ways. We drive straight to the carcass at Blacktail Deer ponds and find one coyote on the kill and five on the hillside above, singing their hearts out. While they howled, I could hear a faint howling from the hills on the southwest side of Blacktail Deer Plateau. Wolves. Wolves answering. The coyotes seem a little nervous, looking around frequently, and finally running up the slope where they watch some more, and then lope west toward Lava Creek and Wraith Falls.
    From there we drive to Tower Falls and look for Rosie, but she is hiding, so we decide to hike to Buck Lake, the small lake near Trout Lake. There are lots of ducks at Trout Lake, along with a few fishermen. Tim noticed a very large trout about 18 inches long swimming in the water. It's a beautiful sunny day and warming up quickly.
    To get to Buck Lake we need to hike a steep trail through grass and trees. A couple of bison graze nearby, which one fisherman warns us about so we hike away from them. The lake itself is about the size of Trout Lake and, unfortunately, stagnant. That explains the quiet and solitude and lack of wildlife. Disappointing in some ways. Trout Lake is always such a small gift, a pleasant oasis close to the road. We look for otters, but see none. Such a quiet, green little place. Some wildflowers are still blooming and I think I identify harebells, Russian olive and asters.
    Later we hike into the Blacktail Deer Plateau on the south side. We go farther in than the trail takes us, passing the old cabin and corral by at least a mile. We hope to see the Leopold Pack, since this is their territory, or some sign of the limping wolf near Blacktail Ponds. The Plateau is miles of rolling hills of tall golden grass and fireweed and pine trees, zigzagged with creeks. A great place to be a wolf.
    On the way back to the Lamar, right after the Yellowstone Picnic area, a fox stands on the north side of the road, hesitating. I jam on the breaks not believing our luck. We stop the car and walk down the road to get a closer look. It runs to the other side where it stops suddenly and pounces. It ignores us, trotting down the road, crossing in front of cars with bewildered drivers. He is a beautiful creature with fluffy red fur, only the second fox I've ever seen in Yellowstone.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

Click for larger image

Yellowstone Experiences 2006