25 October 2016

Stardate 2016.816


Snowcatcher's and my trip to the Pacific Northwest has come to an end. The trip went by too fast, as they usually do. Our final days took us from Moses Lake, Washington, to Butte, Montana, and down into Yellowstone National Park. Our final day was a long-day-drive down into Colorado.

We left Butte, Montana, early in the morning and arrived at the north Gardiner/Mammoth entrance mid-morning. In the past, we've seen grizzlies between Tower and Canyon and were hoping we were early enough to see more.

We traveled south through the visitor depots of Tower, Canyon, Fishing Bridge, Grant and the Colter Bay area to a place known to have lots of bears. Regretfully, the dirt road we wanted was closed, due to recent fires.

Some of the main roadways were closed, and many trees in the fire area were tagged. We think this was a firefighter drop zone. A little rain had fallen throughout the day, hopefully aiding fire workers.

We pointed the car north again and journeyed back toward Gardiner, Montana, where we had a room waiting. We traveled up the Lamar Valley and then swung northeast toward Pebble Creek, the Absaroka Range and northeast park entrance – no grizzly bear to be had yet. We did see lots of bison and antelope.

This handsome devil is a buck (male) pronghorn antelope. Large populations exist here and in other western states. In the region of Colorado where I grew up, I casually refer to them as "speed goats." Does (females) have much smaller horns. Pronghorns are the fastest land mammals in the Western Hemisphere. They are often cited as the second fastest land animal behind the cheetah. They can hold speed much longer than a cheetah. A pronghorn can run 55 miles per hour for a half mile.

Lots of bison are grazing the Lamar Valley. This also is prime grizzly bear habitat.

The following morning we left very early. We had hoped for wildlife on Mount Washburn and Dunraven Pass. We had to settle for bugling elk and good photos at the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.

I'll end our vacation with this frosty shot of bison grazing in a frozen Hayden Valley. Winter is close!

Thanks for reading!


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