Monday, July 14, 2008

Surreal Moments in Yellowstone

This years Yellowstone had two of the most surreal moments that we have ever experienced in Yellowstone. The first one took place on Wednesday afternoon as we were driving between Norris and Mammoth. The roads in this area are lined with trees as you can see in the photo below.
Michelle was napping in the passenger seat and I was scanning the sides of the road for wildlife as I was driving along. As I scanned the road I suddenly noticed movement on the passenger side. As I looked a tree on the side of the road began to fall. I slammed on the breaks waking Michelle up and giving my lens hood a little bump against the dash, Michelle was holding the camera.
The tree ended up in the road right in front of the car. If I had not spotted it falling and taken the actions that I did it would have landed squarely on our car which would have been very bad. Since the tree was now blocking the whole road we were stuck. Several other cars pulled up shortly and we tried to move the downed tree but it stuck between two others. Fortunately a park services truck showed up a few minutes later, they happened to be traveling the same road and were unaware of the issue, and they took their axe and cut the tree into a couple of pieces which we helped to move to the side of the road, which you can see above. I should have taken a pic while the tree was in the road but I was still in a bit of a shock. As you can see below the tree was not huge but it was big enough to do some damage to the car as well as Michelle and I.
After the tree incident we only went to Mammoth before we decided to call it a day and head back to the motel. The next day while we were out in the park we found out from some other photographers in the park that while we were held up by the fallen tree there had been a grizzly and three wolves further down the road that we were driving on. We were disappointed, especially with missing the wolves which had been quite close to the road from what we had heard. So on our way back to our hotel Thursday evening we decided to drive slow and keep an eye out to see if the wolves were still around. We were just about at Sheep Eater Cliff when Michelle spotted this lone black wolf running parallel to the road. We pulled over at the nearest pull out, which was a little bit ahead of where the wolf was running, and I got out to get some shots. The wolf slowly came through the trees and stopped about 10 feet away from me to check me out. It was unbelievable, about as exciting as when I released the eagle that I rescued earlier this year. He sat staring at me for about a minute then started on his way again. He walked along the road for a few feet and then crossed the road and took off into the trees. By the time that we spotted him again he was a long ways away by a small lake. Several others people stopped to see him but most people did not get the experience that I just had. Here are the pics that I took.

This was the highlight of our trip and one of our most exciting moments in any of our 8 trips to Yellowstone. From the I have found out that this is a young wolf that appears to be a loner, probably ejected from its pack. It has been photographed a few times this year mostly in the same are that we saw it. So if you are heading to Yellowstone this year keep your eyes open for this pup and maybe you can have one of those once in a lifetime moments like I did.
Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end and this is the last post that I have from this years Yellowstone trip. I am already planning next years trip but until that time i will try to keep you entertained and maybe a bit educated on flora and fauna that is a bit closer to my home in Minnesota.


troutbirder said...

Ecobirder, you are unbelievably lucky. I mean you pictures are great but your luck is even better.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Those photos gave me the chills. I just made my whole family run up stairs to look at them. You really saved the best for last!

Unknown said...

Fascinating series of photos of the young wolf! And now it is proved: wildlife watching saves lives! Glad you avoided being flattened.

Amila Suwa said...

What a lucky escape you had!
Great pics of the young wolf.

Anonymous said...

Oh that's an adventure!
You must be v-e-r-y lucky and a skilled driver too!
Thephotos are fascinating too I enjoyed seing them as well as reading your story

Shelley said...

Your wolf photos were just fascinating and beautiful. It seemed so timely as just yesterday I voted for Defenders of Wildlife's wolf photo for their initiative to protect them (aerial hunting in Alaska, shooting the wolves that walk outside the Yellowstone boundary, etc. - Im sure you're aware.) They are the creature I most want to see when I visit Yellowstone. You should frame these!!

Peggy said...

Fantastic story to go along with the amazing photos! Glad everything worked out! Lucky in all respects!

Ecobirder said...

Thanks everyone. We were indeed very lucky, on both accounts.

ivars krafts said...

Thanks for the wolf shots. Amazing!!