The day begins a little late for us - 6:45 a.m. and it's just beginning to get light. Now we rush around the cabin, gathering camera equipment, spotting scopes, water and a change of clothes, hoping it will warm up. We leave the cabin at 7:15 a.m. and head into the Park. Not far past the northeast entrance a mule deer stands in the middle of the road and takes her time walking across. Three bison graze close to the road in a meadow not far east from Barronette Peak, the farthest east I've seen bison in the Park. We were warned yesterday that bison have been walking through the cabin area. They are even in Cooke City near the Soda Butte Café. In Round Prairie a cow moose trots quickly east through the grasses and marshes. What is she running away from? Or towards? We never find out.
   Lamar Valley is quiet. The sky is partly cloudy, but it is very bright. The wolves are scattered. The Agate Pack is in Little America and the Hellroaring Pack, a spin-off from the Leopold Pack, can be seen from a pullout near Elk Creek. We see six black wolves, or wolf heads, making their way through the sage. They chase a bull elk and his harem down the slope, then continue west. We lose them in the brush quickly when they very likely run over a ridge and travel behind it. We hear of two other wolves, one from the Unknown Pack called "Parenthesis" and "Sharp Right" of the Slough Creek Pack, traveling together. We never see them, even in our racing back and forth.
   We drive down to Hayden Valley to look for the Hayden Pack. Crossing Dunraven Pass, a string of cars has stopped to view a black bear foraging high up a steep slope. There are no wolves in Hayden this morning, but we do find a silver-backed grizzly grubbing in a deep meadow. He is a beautiful glistening sliver with a dark face and ears and dark hindquarters. Across the river two bald eagles are fishing on the edge of the water. They fly out a short way and dive, then return to their perches on the bank, searching the water. We watch for over an hour, until the rain begins.
   The rain is welcome in the Park, but it ruins our plans to hike. On our way back we stop at Canyon to explore the new visitor center. The huge relief map of the Park exhibiting raised images of all the wolf haunts - Druid Peak, Cache Creek, Specimen Ridge and Mirror Plateau -is very impressive. There is also a very nice book store stocked with local authors and books about the Park and the region.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2006