Saturday, June 2, 2018
The Yellowstone River is running high and fast and muddy with snowmelt and the Bridger Mountains are still capped with snow. A few river rafts filled with brave souls bob up and down in the rushing water. A golden eagle flaps his wings high above Dome Mountain Ranch. On our way to the Park we stopped at The Rock Shop in Livingston which has an impressive selection of art objects – bookends, nightlights, jewelry – all artistically crafted into functional pieces and art. All the work is beautifully done, but one piece made of fossilized fish while swimming was absolutely amazing.
The temperature was 61º by 10:30 this sunny, breezy day. Gardiner is already filled with visitors, vehicles lining the streets. There is a new rest area near the Park entrance with benches constructed of rock and a gabled roof that overlooks the confluence of the Yellowstone and Gardiner Rivers. Surrounded by bright yellow balsamroot and other colorful wildflowers, it is a peaceful oasis.
At Mammoth, elk lounge on the bright green lawn surrounding the hotel. An elk calf probably born this morning follows its mother in halting steps. White spots dot its rich red-brown coat, shining in the sunlight as it nurses. He/she walks awkwardly on long, spindly legs, unsteady. From the hotel map room, we watched the cow and calf only a few yards away or less. The tiny calf with its dark, shiny nose and soft eyes was the face of innocence. It ventured away from its mother to walk the gravel bed along the hotel wall while the cow poked her nose through bars along a hotel railing, tasting the metal and concrete. We wondered if she could see us watching her through the screened windows; if she did, she didn’t act like it.
The great horned owls that nest next to the Albright Center are still there. We stared up through the thick branches of the pine tree, searching for them, but the chicks and the female were tucked deep in the nest and the male was nowhere to be seen. A ranger at the Albright Center confirmed there are two owlets, possible three.
The rest of the afternoon we drove up to Tower and through Lamar Valley. Bison and their calves are scattered across the hillsides along with antelope and a few pairs of sandhill cranes. Rain and snowmelt has left everything a vibrant green. Even Phantom Lake is full, as is Rainy Lake, stretching its shoreline far beyond its normal borders.
We are back at Roosevelt Lodge after several years. The cabin is very comfortable and spacious. It’s so nice to walk out the door and be in the middle of the Park.