Storm clouds threatened all morning. There were strong Druid signals near Soda Butte cone, but they never appeared. They seem to have perfected their route so they are not seen by anyone. When the Druids gave us the slip we moved to the middle of Lamar to watch Slight Right and the grey female walking through the bison again and again being chased away.
    Down the road at Slough Creek, the unknown pack was bedded down high on the rocky hills and barely visible. I saw four blacks lying down and later watched another black moving quickly not far from the banks of the winding creek. I think that some of these wolves have never seen people and can smell us and hear us, even as far away as we are, so they will not come closer.
    We have been caught in pouring rain and didn't care to do it again, so we drove the Beartooth Highway for as far as we could until the road closed. It's a breathtaking, if frightening climb past forest and ranch land high above the world. The meadows are still covered with snow (I counted 5 snowmobilers) and Beartooth and Little Bear Lakes are still frozen. Little Bear Creek is especially pretty, clear water crashing over rocks and winding through the snow.
    It was drizzling when we drove back into the Park, but patches of sun and blue sky were breaking out in the west. Neither the Tower bears or the sow with her cinnamon cub were out. Earlier in the morning we saw a black boar in the lower meadow on the Tower Road, a large bear who ambled about and foraged, ignoring photographers lining the road. We must have seen him in a previous year when he was only a yearling or two year old. Possibly he is the sibling of the cinnamon two year old we saw last year. There is something really nice about seeing an animal from year to year.
    The fox was hunting again in the meadow. He is fun to watch, flipping back and forth as he jumps in the air and pounces. Since it was close, we stopped on the other side of the Yellowstone River and hiked the short, western portion of that trail. Looking down into the river canyon we spotted three harlequin ducks, two males and a female, bobbing up and down in the rapids and resting on the rocks.
    There were no wolves in the evening, but we did watch a beaver swim and chomp on reeds in a shallow pond near the Confluence. He swam around and when one lady approached too closely he slapped his large tail against the water and splashed her. He is a cute little fellow with his buck teeth and long claws and a very diligent worker.
    On the way back to the cabin a beautiful cow moose grazed at the edge of Soda Butte picnic area. She ran along the creek when we pulled in and stopped and turned her head to look straight at us, wanting us to leave. Her left hind leg was torn, the skin red and bare of fur. There were two round wounds about the size of half dollars above and below her fetlock causing us to speculate on what could have happened to her. Wolves? Bears? Wolves rarely take down adult moose, but they may have chased her away from their den. She seemed fine otherwise. Seeing an injured animal is always a sobering sight for me making me appreciate survival in the wild.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2006