Day One
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     Day Three
     Day Four
     Day Five
     Day Six
     Day Seven


               Day 1 May 31, 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014
Yellowstone Lake

   After two smooth flights we hit a snag in Billings. One of Tim's bags has gone to Grand Rapids - the bag with his clothes and binoculars, one camera and Advair. Colleen, the apologetic United representative, traces the bag as if it were a wolf someone was tracking. "It was tagged in Austin to go to Billings, then it went to Grand Rapids, then it went to . . . " Colleen and her husband have a cabin a couple of miles outside Cooke City where her husband's grandfather homesteaded a hundred years ago. This endears her to us, but we won't be happy until Tim's bag is safely delivered to us. Colleen sends us off with two bags of toiletries and a smile, but Tim still has no other clothes to wear and it may be cold tonight. After searching for an inexpensive coat or sweatshirt in Billings, we head to the Park, frustrated, but not defeated.
   Gray clouds hover over Billings and it begins to drizzle. The Yellowstone River is so high its muddy brown waters almost reach the bridge. We drive past green, green pastures and mountainsides toward Red Lodge. A chestnut horse with a flaxen mane and a paint stand perfectly still as the rain falls around them. Silent sentinels. The sun breaks through the clouds on the Beartooth Highway as we curve around a wall of snow 6-10 feet high. There is no skiing today and no bighorn sheep up here on the plateau. Little Bear Creek dances under the road and half of Beartooth Lake is still frozen, rays of sun reflecting in the muted light.
   After being shut out of the Park last fall, we are back again - it has been almost one year. Clouds blanket the Park when we enter, passing a solitary blacktail deer grazing undisturbed on the north side of the road. Near Barronette Peak a fox cruises the road, trotting the edge, randomly criss-crossing. It has black-tipped ears and black legs and its nose is pointed and narrow, a delicate yet determined looking creature. He approaches cars without much fear, a dangerous habit. It is never good for an animal to get that close.
   Near Pebble Creek a handsome cinnamon bear grazes, completely ignoring us. As we drive the Tower Road we catch a glimpse of the black bear sow with three cubs of the year in the trees near Rainey Lake. The cubs play around a tree trunk while their mother grazes close by. The Tower Road is much improved after last year's construction and winds smoothly through Dunraven Pass, still covered with snow. The light is fading fast and it's late when we finally reach Lake Yellowstone where we settle into our cabin after a long day.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2014