In case it hasn’t dawned on you yet that our springtime trip to Yellowstone National Park starts out as a winter trip, here are my notes from April 17, 2011:
Lots of snow melted yesterday. Our ermine spot isn’t looking so pristine.
Snow lies deep in the Lamar Valley – a vast blanket of whiteness covers the valley floor. No tracks out there. North facing slopes are well covered too, but there are many barren areas on the south facing, wind swept slopes. We saw about 30 bison on the south facing slopes of the Lamar and maybe a dozen elk – that’s all in a valley that is about 15 miles long.
This Unita ground squirrel was sitting on a roadside snow bank in the Lamar. He is so thin! He is just beginning to dig a hole in the snow, I think so he’d have a place to hide right near some tiny peeks of green grass which are just beginning to show along the edge of the road. The asphalt gathers warmth and triggers the first grass.
Its blustery and cold. Snow blows off the tops of the peaks and makes will-o-the-wisps hundreds of feet tall. At this elevation winter hasn’t loosened its grip.