Thursday, June 17, 2021
Another long day, another long trip to Hayden Valley and the Lake area. At 5:30 a.m., it was 40º as we drove through Lamar Valley. I love the soft, early morning light on the mountains, slowly lifting to reveal rocky cliffs and grassy plateaus. Our intention was to head straight to Hayden Valley – unless something “big” happened. Junction Butte wolves were in the valley, though spotting was isolated. A black wolf meandered the banks of the river, but there were no other wolves in sight.
The Park feels like the middle of the morning at 5:30 a.m. Daylight starts early in summer and it’s already bright at that time. It took a good two hours to reach Canyon, where we turned south to Hayden. Only a few vehicles were scattered in the turnouts. A bad sign.
We looked and looked for the Wapitis without any luck. A young interpretive ranger stopped to look for a while and confirmed the den site where the Wapiti Pack is seen. I don’t know if anyone has seen the pack in the last few days and I’m afraid they may have moved the puppies. I am disappointed. I haven’t seen the Wapitis in a couple of years, maybe three. I think of our fall trip and wonder how hard it will be to drive south when days are short.
Raspberry and her cub weren’t in their usual territory either. We drove all the way to Silvan Lake looking for her and her daughter, Snow, and didn’t see them. It wouldn’t be so disappointing if it wasn’t such a long drive.
Still, it was a beautiful day and we saw plenty of wildlife along the way – pronghorns in Little America, elk in Mammoth and Hayden Valley, swans and pelicans at the ponds near Yellowstone Lake, bighorn sheep at Yellowstone picnic area and a mountain goat family with two kids on Barronette Peak. The weather was sunny and gave us time to just be in the Park. When I’m not absorbed in watching wildlife or looking for wolves or bears, I can appreciate the landscape – the trees, the flowers, the Lake. Today, looking up at the mountains surrounding Silvan Lake, brown slopes scattered with deadfall and new trees growing, I thought that I could really feel this place, that it was not something to be understood, but to be felt.