Saturday, May 30, 2015

Wolves of Yellowstone class

We took a FANTASTIC field seminar with the Yellowstone Association, called The Wolves of Yellowstone.  Our instructor George was fascinating and inspiring.  Our stay at the Lamar Ranch was fabulous.  Obviously I highly recommend this experience!

On a hike behind the ranch, checking out an elk skeleton:

George explaining bear claw markings on a tree:

A little toad:

One of the dens where the original wolves (transplanted from Canada) were held for acclimation before release into the park, really amazing to see the actual site and tall fences.  It reminded us of trying to keep Grete, our German Shepherd, contained in our backyard in Austin:

A bear had recently passed by... that's nice to know.  He left quite a large track in the mud:

The pretty Rose Creek behind the ranch:

Bison crossing the Lamar River:

We spotted many wolves!  A pack of 4 on the first evening, then 2 black youngsters who appeared a couple times across the valley.  They seemed to be learning how to hunt, chasing just about anything they came across - elk, pronghorn (good luck with that), bison.

I finally managed a half-decent digi-scope photo, yay!

An interesting method of animal watching, not sure if this is to stay warm (in which case, great idea) or something else:

We had time for one hike, so Tuesday afternoon John and I ran/climbed up Specimen Ridge:

View of the valley - and little heads of bighorn sheep peering up at us!

A minor summit photo:

John spotted a specimen of petrified wood, and once we started looking for them we found several more.  Some even still standing like the original trees, very cool.

At first it was afraid...

It was petrified...

Minor interruption while wolf watching, good time to return to the van for a few minutes.  Maybe he wanted a little attention.

Nice hike up to Wraith Falls:

Ranger John telling us a fascinating story of "the bears on the bridge" video that went viral on YouTube last month.  The news reports were not quite correct, the bears weren't "attacking" anyone, they were simply trying to get across the bridge amid a crowd of people.  A bit of chaos all around, as you might imagine.  The bears and people all made it OK, but it was quite an event.  We were enthralled to hear the story from someone who was there:

Our instructor, George, is not just a wonderful teacher, he's also a talented artist.  One of his pieces on display in Gardiner:

And a TED talk where he creates a sculpture on the fly, neat!

We finally got to see the Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner, nice one!  "For the benefit and enjoyment of the people"

Hey, we're at the 45th Parallel, AGAIN.  How did that happen?  John points in the direction he would prefer to go (take a guess):

I can't say enough good things about the YA field seminars, we might just have to go back and take another someday.

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