You know spring is shoving winter off the weather pedestal when you stuff your super-undies — a “Greg-ism” for base layers rated at -20 degree temperatures — back in the drawer in favor of a lighter version. Warmer temperatures in the Yellowstone area are rendering them obsolete for the season.
Spring is unfolding like a pop-up storybook. Snow mounds melt into volunteer puddles and lakes. Rivers swell and tumble with fresh energy. Soggy, muddy meadows morph into lush green pastures. Nature’s wildlife nursery abounds with cubs, pups, calves, goslings and owlets. And the most perplexing wildlife of all, visitors, descend upon the park.
“Hey, could you close your car door so we can drive past”? we called out to a driver who abandoned his car in the road to photograph a black bear. It was a typical bear jam – cars teetering on steep road edges; people traipsing through stopped traffic in both directions; camera-faced humanoids hanging precariously out of car windows and sunroofs; and rangers working earnestly to bring safety and order to the melee.
Mostly though, fellow wildlife enthusiasts are a fun, friendly bunch.
“You see the bear”?
“No, where is it”?
“See those two crossed logs on the mountainside? It’s the brown dot to the left”.
“I don’t see it”!
“OK, see the second line of trees? And the one with the round puff at the top? Now, look to the right”.
“I don’t see it!”
And so the conversation continues until you pretend you spotted the critter just to bring a smile to your new-found comrade’s face. But, the best kind of visitors are our family and friends. To Greg’s and my delight, my sister, Donna, and brother-in-law, Clay, visited us earlier this month for several, fun-filled days of adventure in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
I’m certain they packed some California sunshine in their hiking packs and called ahead to schedule wildlife sightings.
“There’s a huge black bear on the trail, just a quarter-mile up”! A group of hikers warned at the Slough Creek trailhead in Yellowstone after aborting their hike. Not to be deterred, Greg armed Clay and I with bear spray and Donna diligently scanned the area. We didn’t see the gigantic bear and we didn’t hear the growl that a passing hiker experienced but we enjoyed many wildlife sightings where they should be — away from the trail! Here are a few select photos.