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I saw the little girl getting out of the SUV with a fishing pole. My first thought was:
oh no, she thinks the Fishing Bridge in east Yellowstone is for fishing. A logical
assumption, but no, the bridge has been closed to fishing since the early 70's.
I'm sure she saw the posted signs before she got too far, but one has to wonder
about a Fishing Bridge that is closed to fishing. My Dad said they should call
it the "No Fishing Bridge."
And so maybe we should call our August 2004 trip to the park the "No Fishing Trip."
We packed our waders and rods, reels and flies but never wetted a line. Listened to the ranger talk
about regulations, bought our fishing licenses, and carried the fishing books all around the park but
never set foot in a river. Maybe we will next time, or maybe never again. I don't know, but this time
it just didn't happen.
We arrived from Austin on Saturday August 12th and drove from Bozeman to the north
entrance. Armed with fishing gear, camera equipment and a spotting scope we began what turned out to be
an excellent wildlife viewing trip, especially nice for the month of August. In the heat of the summer
the animals typically go up to the high country and only come out at night, but with a cooler, cloudier
week and a little good fortune we saw bears, wolves and other animals every day of the week.
I've grown to love nature photography more and more and Yellowstone is
a wildlife photographer's dream with hawks, bison, wolves, antelope, bears and many other
subjects in abundance and fairly conditioned to the presence of humans. Wolves and grizzlies
are difficult to get within decent camera range, but most everything else is just a matter
of spending enough time in the park and keeping your eyes open.
I went hoping for landscape shots (since it WAS August when the sun constantly shines),
but instead it was cloudy and at times cold so the plans we had made for the trip were adjusted by the winds
of fate and Dad and I simply tried to go with what we were given. So this trip became more like a May
excursion with weather too cool and unpredictable to fish but excellent for bringing out the megafauna.
We were based again out of the Silvergate cabins which put us in a great position
to be in the Lamar Valley early each morning to see what the night had brought out. Leaving the cabin
at 6 o'clock most mornings, we often saw elk along the road and three or four times moose and/or black bear.
A few mornings we were graced with a black bear mother and her one cub of the year(coy). I continually
watched for Great Gray Owls in the mornings and evenings, but still have never seen one in the wild.
Maybe next time.
Once in the Lamar Valley we would listen to the radio for any activity by Rick McIntyre
and his wolf spotters. Sometimes they had nothing, but on other occasions they clued us in to some excellent
bear and wolf viewing. We were extremely lucky this trip in that a Bison had died just below Jasper Bench in
the Lamar, apparently from the stress of the rut. This creates all kinds of opportunities for predator
viewing as everyone shows up to get his fair share. Eventually this one carcass would enable us view
many wolves and grizzlies that we would have never seen otherwise.
Our first wolf viewing event came courtesy of Ranger Rick on the Hellroaring overlook.
He had gotten signals from 353F of the Geode Pack and had spotted them making their way
up the far side of the mountain. Soon, with help from others, we had our scopes on the
pack of four playing and meandering through the sage. The viewing lasted quite a while
although the wild canids were a long ways off. Any wolf seen in August is to be
considered highly fortunate and we were overjoyed. Later on the trip we also
saw an uncollared gray wolf 10 miles south of Swan Lake, he was in a meadow
along the road in the middle of the day. A beautiful brown and gray he hid
in the grass and then walked off a short distance over a small rise not to be
seen by us again. This was the closest wolf viewing we had the whole trip and by far the most unexpected.
Author - Tim Springer
Photography - Tim Springer
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