Bozeman is 41 degrees when we arrive at 12:40 p.m.
Driving west towards Livingston there are patches of blue in the sky,
but it's a mostly cloudy day and feels comfortable with no wind.
Spring has been kind and wet here. Horses graze in pastures and
sprawl out sleeping in the grass. Cattle, sheep and even a
few bison from domestic herds dot the landscape.
We pass a few osprey nests constructed high in the air,
including the nest next to the Yellowstone River
just outside of Gardiner, which is occupied as always.
Yellowstone is deep green from winter's snows.
The mountains still have white caps and there are large patches of snow on the high meadows.
Entering the Park, just before the Boiling River, we watch 13 bighorn sheep, all ewes,
graze high above the road and river. At Swan Lake Flats a pair of sand hill cranes
who may be nesting in the flats near the lake feed along its shore.
Geese glide across the quiet surface as elk watch from the hillsides.
Elk are everywhere.
We slowly wind our way through the Park and stop at Hellroaring to look for the Oxbow pups.
The Oxbow pack, a spin-off of the Leopold Pack, has ten puppies and made its den above
a pond which is visible only through a small window of trees. The turnout is crowded
with people and spotting scopes. Every so often someone is lucky enough to spot a tiny
black or gray form, wobbling out of the den and crawling over a log or following one
of their adult babysitters. The puppies are not visible right now, but we will stop
many times before the week is over.
Little America and Lamar Valley are filling up with newborn bison calves, sweet and wobbly.
East of the Institute, a black wolf sits under a tree, maybe one of the Slough Creek Pack.
If he hadn't turned his head, I wouldn't have known it was a wolf. He gets up and walks
into the trees and we lose the black wolf.
Near Soda Butte Cone we watch a pair of coyotes traveling toward their den, we think.
They disappear in the tall grass, so we don't know for sure, but they may have a den
in the same area as two years ago. Past Round Prairie a deep chocolate brown cow
moose looks down on us from a hill. Farther down the road a big black bear looks
for food in the grass. He ambles along, close to the road and takes no notice of us.
As the sun goes down, the temperature drops. After a full day of traveling we
drive out the Northeast Entrance and are glad to be back in Silvergate.
Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer
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