We saw quite a few grizzlies around Mt Washburn this summer including spring cubs. One day we were watching a lovely blonde grizzly on the slopes below us with a number of people. The bear worked it's way along the hillside so I followed with my camera a safe distance away. At some point the bear started making his way up the hillside and it rapidly became evident that he was going to reach the top right in the middle of a turnout filled with cars. You could see all the people there start shifting around nervously, trying to give him space hiding behind vehicles. He moved through the cars cautiously but without incident and finally stopped in the wild flowers and stared right at me for a long moment. I was a safe distance away but it's always a little unnerving to be out in the open by yourself and have a grizzly looking right at you. I have never seen a prettier bear, he had long blonde hair and was well filled out.
   Dad of course during all this was filling in the newcomers on what was happening and giving everyone a generous view through the spotting scope complete with narration. I often wonder how many folks look through that scope on a trip courtesy of dad or Christine.
   After viewing Washburn for most of the morning we would cross over Dunraven Pass and head down into Hayden Valley. In Hayden we would look for the Hayden Valley wolf pack and grizzlies. We did see the wolves once a long ways off at their rendezvous site and we watched a pair of grizzlies one morning meandering around Alum creek. One was light colored and the other chocolate they made a striking pair but were too far off for photos.
   In July one has to contend with bison jams in Hayden but most of them were not too bad and gave us an opportunity to appreciate the bison up close. Having dad along was a calming influence as I waited for the first timers to navigate around the wooly ungulates.
   After Hayden we would head down to the Lake area scoping out Mary and Sedge bays for grizzlies. In the area between the two bays there was a coyote den with pups that were often visible. They would be out occasionally wrestling and playing with themselves and harassing mom. The pups were really cute and it made for good pictures against the blue lake.
    This year it was fairly hot and the bugs were bad. I've never seen the biting flies as bad as it was and heard of several people who went to the infirmary to get their bites treated. We had head nets which worked great at keeping the flies off but visibility through the scope and camera was impossible through the netting. We ended up wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants and didn't do too badly.
   After looking for the coyote pups and bears we would head down to the Lake shore to eat lunch on the beach. The Lake kept things cool and the wind off the water kept the bugs away so we had many a pleasant lunch listening to the waves and munching sandwiches.
   After lunch we would slowly head back stopping occasionally for pictures of moose and elk near Canyon, sheep and pika along Dunraven Pass, wild flowers on Washburn, and osprey and fox at Tower. The Tower store was always full, but we managed to escape unharmed with some ice cream on more than one occasion.
   One day we went back to the cabin early and then drove back to Washburn for the evening wolf and sunset show and were treated to a nice rainbow for our efforts. Usually however we just headed in to the cabin around 7:00 or so in order to have time to shower, eat and process pics before getting up early the next day.
   We saw two wrecks while we were there and both appeared to be the result of not watching the road. People were probably watching or avoiding wildlife. Sobering moments they served as a reminder to pay attention while driving.
   There was a solitary black bear that was feeding in the tall grass at Round Prairie frustrating all photographers by hiding in the grass rarely lifting his head. The flies there were bad there and it was entertaining to watch the crowd dancing and swatting to keep them away while waiting for the bear to cooperate.
   Every time we would head back to the car after stopping to view an event I would be commenting on the wildlife or the view and Dad would be telling me about all the people he met. Who was from where, what they did and how their dog was enjoying the trip. The Park service should hire pop out to work the crowd.
   Typically we come in to the Park from Bozeman but this time the flights were much cheaper traveling from Billings so Dad and I got to enjoy the awesome Beartooth highway once again. Red Lodge was having a biker rally which was a show unto itself. The noise of the Harleys always bothers me but it was fun to watch all of them together. Everyone of the riders we spoke with were wonderful kind folks just enjoying the beautiful days and lovely scenery.
   I really like life above the treeline and in July the Beartooths are awash in wildflowers. Hard to capture with a camera the colors were incredible especially on the way in. The warm days during our trip took a toll on the flowers but there were still some in bloom for the trip home. We got lucky and found a Rocky Mountain Goat at the top of the pass and were able to get some shots. A bonus we had not anticipated.
   All in all it was a great trip full of memories and it's always a treat to get to spend time with my Dad.

Author - Tim Springer 2006
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2004