( As always just click on an image for a larger, sharper version )
Moving day as I leave Yellowstone National Park and head on down to Grand Tetons National Park, with the hopes of being able to add to my moose portfolio. I guess I was all but ready to move on anyhow, but the weather forecast calls for 3 to 9 inches of snow here Wednesday with more on Thursday, and temps in the low 20’s. While the forecast is pretty much the same for Jackson Hole, at least if I get down there today, before it starts snowing, I can get into a private campground with hookups to make it through what looks like a couple of uncomfortable days where I will be holed up inside, and it sure would be nice to have electricity for heaters and such.
Trip down to the Fireside Resort Campground in Wilson, WY., just west of Jackson Hole was a pleasant one, with nice weather and not much traffic. The campground is nice enough, though certainly tight, but no way worth the nearly $60 a night, but it will do to get me through the next few stormy days.
Took this image of a the threatening storm front coming over the mountains from a pullout along route 89.
After setting up, I still had an hour or two of daylight so I took a trip up Spring Gulch Road and into Tetons National Park. As luck would have it, I ran into a nice bull moose as soon as I went through the entry gates to the park, he was moving fast like he had somewhere to go and needed to get there before dark.
Headed out early this morning to do the same trip around the upper loop road and down to Hayden valley but in the reverse order of Saturday’s trip. Today was one of those days where I cover a lot of ground, at the proper time of day, but just pretty much come up empty. I may have set some kind of reverse record for wildlife sightings in Hayden Valley. I traversed the entire valley north to south and then again south to north and saw but one lone bison in the distance, no elk, antelope, bison herds, wolves, bears, or coyotes. If you have ever been to the Hayden Valley, you know how rare it is to have it virtually empty of wildlife.
I did manage to find these swans to photograph. I was excited to see some Canada Geese floating downstream towards the swans, for I seem to recall that the swans are extremely territorial, and will drive off other birds such as the geese. I was ready for some action! But these guys seemed like they were the best of friends.
I was rounding a sharp corner and saw this young black bear cub all but in the road grazing on the curbside clover. With no mother in sight and other people stopping and getting within 6 feet of the youngster, for once, I was almost hoping a ranger would come along and break this up before the cub was startled out into the road and struck by a car. At times, his head was only a foot or so from the pavement and he acted as if he didn’t even see or hear the cars only a couple of feet from his head whizzing by, and he was completely oblivious to the growing crowd of people all but reaching out to pet him. I hope he survived this, but with no mother and this lack of fear of traffic and people, it probably doesn’t look like much of a future for this guy.
Lastly, a couple more bison shots. I got a kick out of this guy, once again using the centerline of the highway to negotiate his way down the road. They do move at a very slow pace while traveling on the highway, but they can seriously unnerve you as they pass by at only a couple of feet from your vehicle.
Especially if you are on a very narrow gravel road, such as the one to the fire tower, and you encounter a fellow like this coming down the road as you head up. At least he was using the shoulder of the road, I assume because there was no yellow centerline on the gravel road.
Once again, I traversed the upper loop road from Mammoth to Tower, out to the Lamar Valley, and then on to Hayden Valley, then back to Norris, then home to Mammoth Campground.
I encountered a couple of bison jams along the way and a few scattered elk. Though unable to get any photos of him because of the distance, I was able to observe the grizzly that has been camped out on a carcass on the far shore of Swan Lake for the past three days.
I got a few nice predawn shots of the bull elk in town, controlling his ever growing harem of cows, going out over the hills to drive a stray back to the harem if she wandered too far to graze.
In the late afternoon, while I was at the computer processing today’s shots, I heard a bull bugling just outside the campground and it sounded like he was heading my way. Sure enough, I looked out the windshield and there he was cutting through the site directly in front of me and heading for the main road. I gathered up my camera and shot out the door after him and managed to get a couple of decent shots of him before he disappeared over the hill, apparently looking for some company.
( As always, just click on any image to get a larger, sharper photo )
Today I had an appointment for the Prius’ 15,000 mile checkup at Ressler’s Toyota in Bozeman, 92 miles away. I have been seriously considering adding a Honda 2000 generator for my motorhome even though I have an onboard 5500 Onan generator, the reasoning being fuel efficiency since the generator is almost always running full bore simply to charge batteries, not terribly efficient. Where the large generator burns 1.1 gallons of gas an hour, the smaller Honda would get 4 hours of run time on a gallon of gas while still doing the same battery charging. Whether that 4 to 1 fuel savings could ever justify the initial $1000 purchase price remains to be seen, it all depends on how many days I am able to find camping without shore hookups versus the more expensive campgrounds with hookups. The more I boondock and use the Honda instead of the Onan, the more viable buying the small generator becomes.
The trip into Bozeman gives me an opportunity to once again visit Walmart and stock up on staples. After getting the Prius serviced I found my way to a Murdock’s store ( don’t know if this is a chain or not ) and purchased my Honda 2000 along with a bunch of dog treats. Great store with very helpful staff and huge selection of hardware, tools, work clothes and pet supplies!
Headed back to Yellowstone’s north entrance and went through the gates around 3 PM and encountered a very pleasant surprise! Although I had my photo gear with me, I had sort of written today off as far as getting any kind of wildlife shots since the round trip to Bozeman was all highway driving, but just a half mile inside the park I came across a 6 ram bachelor herd of bighorn sheep traversing a near vertical slope on the west side of the road across the river.
I watched as they looked for a place to cross the river, then descended down to the stream and paused for a drink.
They then made a few false starts to crossing before finally finding a spot they deemed suitable for a rock to rock jump across the river.
They then gathered up the troops and looked for the best way up the slope and across the road to some higher ground.
A very interesting 45 minutes spent observing their cautious approach to this crossing and producing some of my favorite shots of my stay here in Yellowstone.