Saturday, June 8, 2013

Idaho and Yellowstone - Days 1 to 3

After going to Yellowstone 7 times in 5 years, we took a break to see other parts of the world.  So it has taken us 3 years to return to Yellowstone for our 8th trip.  Needless to say, we were really looking forward to this visit.  We decided to go in June which is later than usual for us because we were hoping to see more babies.  Baby elk, baby pronghorn, baby fox, baby badger, baby moose, baby goats…you get the idea.  But we also knew that the park would be more crowded this time of year so we were prepared for the influx of  “Tourons” (tourist morons).

The first part of our vacation was spent in Northern Idaho with family.  It was nice to be back in the home where I spent so many summers growing up.  Lake Coeur D’Alene has always been beautiful and peaceful but it didn’t used to have much wildlife since years of logging and mining in the area had taken its toll on the local fauna.  But nature has a way of making a comeback and that was very evident this trip. During this visit we were amazed at the variety of wildlife that we saw over our two day visit.

Columbian Ground Squirrel:
Columbian Ground Squirrel

 Yellow-pine Chipmunk:
Yellow-pine Chipmunk

Our first Sharp-shinned Hawk in the orchard:

Osprey eyeing us as it returned to its nest:
Osprey Eyeing us Near it's Nest

Ruffed Grouse:
Ruffed Grouse

Osprey that mis-timed its dive:
Swimming Osprey

But, it swam to a log and dried out nicely:
Wet Osprey Drying it's Wings

The biggest surprise of all was seeing not one…not two…but four moose all within a ¼ mile of each other in some of the smaller neighboring lakes.  Seeing one moose here would be rare and four is a down right miracle.  Hopefully, they will stick around for a while.

Resting Moose

Moose in Hiding

We even had a cool summer storm complete with rainbow:
Rainbow Over Lake Coeur D'alene

The 8 hour drive from Northern ID to Yellowstone is very scenic (except for the drive through Butte, Montana), so the time went by pretty quickly.  We arrived in Yellowstone around 5PM and began the drive through to park to Silver Gate and our cabin.  Even though it had been 3 years since our last trip, it didn’t seem like much had changed.  In fact,  it didn’t take long to spot wildlife and our first bear jam of the trip.

Mamma with 1 cinnamon and 1 black yearling cubs:
Black Bear with Two Yearling Cubs

Next, we took a quick detour to Petrified Tree.  As we approached the end of the road, I could see someone with their cell phone taking a picture up the hill.  So, I made the snide comment that it must be tourist season since someone was actually taking a picture of the Petrified Tree.  But, it turns out that I was wrong since just then a good sized black bear bounded down the hill past the petrified tree, ran across the road, and started munching on the green grass next to the road.

 Black Bear

We saw some Bighorn Sheep in the trees at the Yellowstone Picnic Area and the usual Bison and Pronghorn in the Lamar Valley.  But aside from that, the rest of the trip to Silver Gate was uneventful.  We picked up our rental scope and some supplies in Silver Gate and by the time we were done it was close to dark.  So we had our usual late Yellowstone dinner and went to bed.

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