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       Day 8 October 14th, 2015

Wednesday, Oct 14, 2015
Silver Gate, Montana

   The last day in the Park. I remember the colors: gold and yellow, muted greens of leaves and grass, azure rivers, the dark green of four foot waves on Lake Yellowstone, frothing with white. Willows - red and lavender, the blue black of a stellars jay and grey and white grey jays. A pair of bluebirds. Rich brown coats on elk, growing in for winter; dark black hides on bison and one little orange red dog. Flecks of dark brown on the white feathers of a great horned owl. Clouds of white steam above Mammoth Terraces against a black night sky. The change in light is everything. It sheds a warm glow across valleys and lights up the brown slopes of Mount Everts. The change of seasons brings change of color and change of light, foreshadowing rest, rejuvenation and rebirth - the cycle of the Park.
   Driving into the Park dark shadows hide any wildlife on the road. We stop before Soda Butte Cone and roll down the windows to listen to the bison. They munch quietly on golden grass, calves now dark brown like their parents, clinging to their mothers. The Lamar Canyon Pack has disappeared, probably up Cache Creek. They leave the bison to themselves. The Junction Butte Pack has left Little America, abandoned the small carcass finally, but there are signals from the Prospect Peak Pack, particularly 821F, the alpha female. They are somewhere near Junction Butte, so we go back and forth between Boulder and Wrecker and Elk Creek searching for wolves who are tiny dots a mile or so away. We never see them.
   At Mammoth the elk are lounging near the Magistrate's house. A magpie sits on one cow's back while the other elk just stare at us. A Park employee lies in the grass eating his lunch. The sun warms the day which began about 24. Passing the cliffs above Gardiner River, I wish we had time to walk the river path and watch for elk to come down to drink.
   Paradise Valley is a plain of dry, yellow pastures. Deer and horses graze together. Bears have been seen near Tom Miner Basin, grazing in the pastures on a special type of grass which was planted to fatten up the cattle naturally. The bears are long gone. We wind past the Yellowstone River, always hypnotized by its varied rhythms. It is so hard to leave, but we will be back.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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