Thursday, July 31, 2008

Like Animals?

Just got back from Yellowstone. I promised you pictures, so here ya go. I took more video this time (bought a camcorder) and will post here when I get those up on YouTube, which will be a while... I have to learn how to edit the video footage, first. Got some great video, though--grizzly eating a deer, bear cub playing, a big grizzly chasing a smaller grizzly, bull moose blocking on our hiking trail--all of it shot within 20-200 yards. Great stuff! If you haven't been to Yellowstone, what are you waiting for? It's awesome! My only regret this trip was that I was not quick enough to get my equipment out to film a pack of wolves chasing down a herd of approximately 40 elk. That's right; we saw an actual wolf hunt, a mere 150 yards off the road. Unbelieveable and a rare sight. Get out there while it still exists!

My nephew is just too cool for Yellowstone.

Sometimes the only way to punish a kid is to drown him... just a little bit.

Nice waterfalls all over Yellowstone.

My nephew in his not-so-cool "safari gear;" he makes it work, though, don't you think? Look for it in catalogs this fall.

Some pronghorn, the only antelope in North America and the fastest animal here, with speeds over 5o mph.

The Grand Tetons, just south of Yellowstone, exist at the end of the rainbow.

Time to reflect a little...

4500 total miles on the trip... you have to do something to keep from throwing up and sticking your head out the window most of the journey is the best medicine!

A grizzly 50 yards off the road, eating a roadkill deer he dragged there. Caused miles upon miles of backed up traffic and we were lucky enough to be right at the front.

You should never swim in mountain lakes; it's a warning in all the literature. You can get hypothermia in minutes, sometimes even less, even in the summer. What? Me? Oh, I'm Canadian, too, so I'm just fine. This is like warm bathwater for me and if the American part of me gets cold, I just pee... Enjoy that bottled water from the mountains you're drinking...

This moose was like 25 yards away from us on a trail we hiked. We almost didn't see him. Fortunately, we did and we just watched him while he took his sweet time foraging and moving on; he actually blocked the trail for a while. A moose is the worst animal you can run into in the woods, even more so than a grizzly or cougar. Moose don't run, they stand and fight and are highly unpredictable, unlike cougars, who will most likely run and bears, who will most likely amble away, unless you are an idiot who surprised them or inspected a carcass they are eating. Fortunately, my nephew was too cool for this moose to mess with.

More moose.

For those of you who want some scenary... I tend to just take animal shots now, as I have all the scenic shots from previous trips.

A black bear.

The chef enjoys his breakfast. Just FYI, 11-year-olds make great Shirpas...

A coyote stops to check us out.

That same grizzly eats by the side of the road, on the beach. You can see the deer carcass just behind his paw.

A more traditional looking grizzly. This guy got chased by a bigger bear a few minutes after this was taken, a mere 3o yards in front of us! (We were across the road and they were on a twenty foot rise.)

Some kind of bird or something; anyone recognize it...?

Same grizzly eating off the road. He headed over for a drink to help wash down some of his meal.

Bighorn with a lamb.

After this was taken, my nephew and I wrestled the bison to the ground; we were a little bored.

Some bison after crossing a river then ambling along the road at night. Bison are starting to congregate in larger and larger numbers, as the re-introduced wolf population surges. At first, the wolves rarely went after bison, as elk are easier prey and plentiful; however, as wolves grow in number, the weaker packs are pushed into the prairies, where they are forced to learn to hunt bison or starve. Ironically, it is the weaker wolves that hunt the bison and in some cases, they gain confidence and strength, returing to elk territory, where they chase the pack away that once chased them away. An intriguing cycle. The bison can defend themselves better in large groups but then have to compete more for food. As always in life, it is a double-sided coin...

Trust me, go to Yellowstone. You can stay in cabins, hotels, camp, whatever; plenty of places to eat in the summer and so forth. It's so big, it doesn't feel crowded, even in the peak season of July. I guarantee you'll see elk and bison. Other animals, it's up to you. Moose are rare to see but we've had good luck; seen some every trip but one. (Grand Tetons are good for moose.) Cougar are nearly impossible; we had one roaming around a campground and never saw the freaking thing. Doh! (One was shot and killed in Chicago, only a neighborhood away from where I live, several months ago! Again... doh!) Grizzlies can be seen if you hit the right places in the early morning and evening, although still uncommon. Black bears are uncommon, too, and I've only seen one at Yellowstone... until this trip, where we saw like 10, including some cubs! Pronghorn are usually seen at least once, while bighorn are rarer. For eagles, it's all about reading the literature and going where it advises. Coyotes are common, wolves are rare (hate people), and foxes are extremely rare to see. (I know! Foxes?! Rare?!) We watched one hunt last summer and didn't realize how lucky we were until this trip. Get out there and have fun! Share your photos with me, though, 'kay? Thanks.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Heading to Yellowstone for a while. Will post some pictures when I get back. Cheers!