Yellowstone National Park: April 14, 2011
We’ve arrived! We were still getting settled in this morning. I didn’t realize how nice it was to have it all figured out at the condo (where we used to stay). The cabin we’ve rented this year is smaller and has a very different layout. It’s a good thing we didn’t arrive with $300 worth of groceries. As it is, I put my canned food in a box under a chair. I feel as though I’m playing house in a doll house. But I do have a stove and a small refrigerator, a nice big sink, and some cabinet space. It actually has two queen sized beds, so we have a nice place to lay out our cameras and spotting scopes when we come back for the night. Most important, it is clean, snug, and a good collection of pots and pans. We do our own housekeeping and cooking.
A pet goose lives here. Part of getting settled in was an introduction to Lucy. She has lived here longer than the owners. When Eddie and Laura purchased the cabins they had to promise not to eat her! Lucy is a sweetheart. She lives in a little enclosure with a pond (frozen),a small hut, and a bit of lawn. When she sees lettuce in my hand she greets me with wild exuberance. She even has me down on my knees trying to pick what little grass grows along the sunny side of the cabins.
Lots of snow in the park. There are patches of exposed ground, but not much to eat on these barren spots. Many places are still too deep for anything to wade through. The bison and elk take advantage of windswept ridges to move from one place to another. Elk tend to be a little skittish, but bison are very comfortable using roads for traveling.
Mountain bluebirds are back .. and Canada geese .. and robins. Why do bluebirds and robins come back so early? It is gusty and blustery and spitting snow. Three robins perch high in a rocking aspen in front of me. They could seek shelter in the lee of the heavily wooded slopes, but no. Instead they seem to embrace the wintery weather.
So many places are going to be buried in snow for a long time: Hellroaring Trailhead, Blacktail Ponds Loop Road, Petrified Tree road. I wonder if we’ll even get to drive the Mammoth Hot Springs Loop before we leave.
End of day: We drove through the Narrows and as far as Fisherman’s Access. Most of the elk are near Mammoth, and not many there. Bison are scattered. This is the first year of a new policy allowing bison to leave the park as long as they don’t go beyond Yankee Jim Canyon. A cattle guard and a fence will help hold that line. It is an ongoing problem that Yellowstone National Park saved a wonderful chunk of high country, but wasn’t properly designed to provide winter range for the herds of elk and bison. The new policy helps, although I’m sure there are people who are not happy about bison in their yards. Many bison have left the park, seeking food. Most look O.K., but a few are really thin.
Didn’t see a ‘dog’ today ( wolf / coyote / fox ). A three dog day is an event worth commenting on. A zero dog day is almost as unusual. Very quiet Yellowstone day. Some would say we are here too early. For me, the wide expanses of wildness are a balm for my spirit. It takes patience for Yellowstone to reveal her secrets.