Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 53

Monday, August 29

Miles today: car again, driving around Yellowstone

We woke up around 7:00, 20 minutes after sunrise and right away went for a drive to look for animals. We went about 50 feet out of the campsite and found our first bison!

As we kept driving, we saw a lot more bison just hanging out on the side of the roads. These guys are huge!

As we kept driving we saw a bunch of cars parked along an overlook and people with telescopes and binoculars. Since it was just after 7 am, we knew something good had to be going on. We found out there was a female grizzly bear and her two cubs feasting on a bison carcass! Apparently, people had seen the sick bison yesterday so they watched to see what would happen. A pack of wolves stalked the sick animal for a while, but 6 bison were guarding it as it died. Eventually the wolves attacked and killed the bison- he couldn't fight back at all. They killed him and ate it for a while until the bears showed up and took over the show. We could see the pack of wolves off in the distance waiting for their turn again, and through the telescope (others brought telescopes and allowed us to look) we had an awesome view of the grizzlys! They were really going to town on the fresh meat. It was an awesome sight to see this happening in real life, way better than on TV! A scene like this is like the Holy Grail for wildlife watching enthusiasts. We really couldn't take pictures of the grizzlies or wolves because they were too far away, but I thought that was kind of cool that everybody was just watching and enjoying the moment instead of taking a bunch of pictures. I'm sure if we had a camera with a super zoom lens we would have some awesome shots though!

Now Ben and I were really satisfied with wildlife sightings and went to see some other awesome views in the park

This is the Yellowstone River Lower Falls- a 108 ft waterfall

The view from Mt Washburn. These dead trees were everywhere throughout the park- not sure why. Maybe from previous forest fires?

We drove around for a while longer before we returned to pack up the tent. On the way out of the park we passed by the giant Yellowstone Lake. It is 14 by 20 miles, and the largest mountain lake in North America. It is a gorgeous blue green color that I think cannot be captured by camera. The mountains in the background created such a scenic drive out of the park.

We drove back to Jackson, where we got a hotel for the night- there is no camping in town. It feels great to be in a hotel for the first time in a few weeks! We will be headed into Idaho tomorrow, can't wait! I think we have about 850 miles left until the Pacific Coast can you believe it? Only about 2 weeks left- wow. We are feeling good after a restful 2 days and ready to take on Idaho!

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