02 March 2009

Mid-winter Yellowstone National Park

Despite having a paper and faculty union contract revisions to finish, we headed to Chico Hot Springs for a weekend at a rental house with some of the gang. Pleasant soaks, skiing in the Park, hang-time with good friends: It was worth having to pull an "all nighter" Sunday to finish my work.

Nice views from the porch, too:

Saturday breakfast and some of us skied the Blacktail Trail and others hiked the Mammoth Terrace. There was more of a crowd than I'm used to seeing on ski trails near Butte America:

But Don can always find a little untouched snow for a tele turn or two:

A short hike got us out on a rocky point for lunch, and it seemed very remote:

The lichens were spectacular at this spot:

And we were treated to a tiny carnival of snow fleas:

They could have went swimming in this icy little pool:

Shadows were getting longer, telling us it was time to turn back:

On the way back, there were some fresh mystery turds on the ski track. Laid so elegantly, a bit large for weasel/ermine, maybe an anal retentive pine marten:

Ewe, a sheep:

And of course lots of elk and buffalo. A herd of that ilk on a lush swale:

And a few in places less traveled by:

We stopped for a visit in the Lamar Valley to watch 6 wolves. They were more than a half-mile away and small through binoculars, but these three dedicated wolf watchers shared their good scopes and told us about the old alpha male with the broken and healed leg that still led the pack. We paused several times as the long howls sifted through the crisp clear air:

Back at the house, we were greeted by our own two wolves, RTD the old wolf:

And Lazarus the wolf pup, a rescued dog from an abandoned busload of huskies:

Two restful nights, long soothing soaks, and all too soon it was time to go. Oops! Andrea did not quite make the run to the porch for my camera's timer:


troutbirder said...

What fun! Have always wanted to visit Yellowstone in the winter but never have. Dumb question - can you drive up into the Lamar Valley in winter or is it a snow coach or snowmobile deal?

EcoRover said...

You can drive from Mammoth, through the Lamar, and out the "Northeast Entrance" to Cooke City. Unless a storm closes the road. Detailed map link: http://www.yellowstonenationalpark.com/images/YELLmap1.pdf .

Not a dumb question--I lived here years thinking all park roads closed in winter, or were open only to Mammoth.

Janie said...

I've never been to Yellowstone in winter, but it sure looks like fun. We've wolf watched in June. The scopers are always generous with the tourists. And then Steve trout fishes in July on the Yellowstone and sometimes in August on the Slough... Maybe someday we'll even bring the horses up there for a ride.

tsduff said...

I lovelovelove the lichen on the rocks! Gorgeous - I think I'm living vicariously through your pictures. I've only been to Yellowstone when the heat of the summer crowds was unbearable.

CountryDreaming said...

Yellowstone National Park in winter gleams with a topaz beauty of blue sky and yellow patches of vegetation against the snow. Especially love the rustic wooden cabin and the herd of elk.

EcoRover said...

Janie, we're just 2 hours from YNP and get spoiled visiting off season. Early October for whistling elk & wolves is great too.

Thanks, TSD--I share your likin' for lichens. What an amazing (and beautiful) complex of cooperating/competing species.

CD, YNP should hire you as poet laureate. Rustic cabin? Oh, you mean the fancy house (at least compared with most homes in Butte America ;-)

Lisa Wilson said...

What great photos! Thanks for visiting my blog. Glad to find yours!

mountain.mama said...

That looks like a great time! We're headed there in June for a visit, always a pleasure to go.