Yellowstone Wildlife

The most interesting  aspect of Yellowstone for me is the wildlife.  No matter how many times I have seen wild animals, I still get a kick our of seeing them in the wild.  I love zoos but . . .

Basically, the technique is to drive along until you see a group of people looking at something off the road. That thing is usually a wild animal.  Not exactly a wilderness experience but it does not require much walking.

As we first drove into the park we say a group of people looking at a buffalo (they call them bison in the park) off in the distance across the Madison River.  We looked to the left and saw this guy just jogging alone,


Later the same day we saw the only bears we encountered.  They are a bit hard to find these days because the rangers have tried to keep them in the back country.  The days of feeding a bear a peanut butter sandwich from your car are long gone.  Here are the mother black bear and her cub that we saw.  The picture was taken with a 300 power telephoto lens.  God only knows what the people who were firing away with their cellphone cameras got-they were a good way off.


The most ubiquitous animal in the part is the buffalo (OK, bison).  You see them all over-usually lone bulls who have left the herd.


Yellowstone is truly the “place where the buffalo roam”-and they roam wherever they damn well please.


Nothing can faze these behemoths except for an 1870s hide hunter with a .50 caliber rifle and a taste for slaughter.   Maybe we will see the great herds again since the Indians are buying up large parts of the Great Plains with the idea of returning it to its natural state.

The second most common wildlife in the park is the elk, the bigger cousin to the deer.  I was not able to get a shot of a bull with a really big rack, which can reach up to 5 ft in height.  Here is a doe grazing.  It was really great watching her run away but I didn’t have that type of camera.


Finally, I said that I got only 1 picture on the second day before my camera battery died, but it was a good one.  Well, here it is-Mr. and Mrs. Elk just “chillin” in the river.DSC_0147


Yellowstone Scenery

The wonders of Yellowstone are almost endless. Much of it is very difficult to photograph. The little wonders, like wildflowers or birds, for instance, could be shot if you had a great deal of time, which we did not. Some things, like the forest which is growing over the areas burned in the 1988 fires (by the way, we were in the park during those fires), could be shot but it would be very hard to show the detail of the old trees on the ground with the newer ones growing over them. There are magnificent long range vistas all over the park. Shooting them is easy but pictures never seem to convey the majesty of the view. Also, there are so many that this blog would be endless.

Also, I must confess that on our third day there, out of three and a half, I took one shot (a good one-see two elk in a river on next post) and then my battery died. So I was not “armed” for about a third of the park, which unfortunately included the Yellowstone Canyon (not quite the Grand Canyon but still grand), Yellowstone Falls (the best of many in the park), Yellowstone Lake (largest lake in the US after the Great Lakes and Tahoe) and many other great spots. For that I apologize.

But I did shoot some good stuff. I have been To Yellowstone at least twelve times and the parts that still get me the most are the incredible meadows along the creeks and rivers.




Here is one with a small hot spring in front of it.


How about a little falls in the shot.



Or how about a big falls.  This is Tower Falls.


I have grown a little tired of geysers and hot springs over the years but I did take a few shots of them.They are also the most crowded areas in the park.

Obviously I could not pass up Old Faithful. However, what most impresses me there is the Old Faithful Inn-a truly amazing structure. It is basically a five story log cabin with lots of rooms.  It was built in none month-in the winter!


We stayed to watch the geyser (which is now the Old Semi-Faithful since they now can only predict eruptions within a fifteen minute or so time frame).  It was not a wilderness experience. We stayed on the viewing area on the front roof of the Inn.  We were not alone.

DSC_0139 DSC_0141

I did take a few other “hot shots”

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I will finish with an impressive canon-but not the big one.  You will just have to imagine that-or Google :Yellowstone CanyonDSC_0123

The animals-my real favorite part of Yellowstone-next.




Glacier National Park 2

On our 2nd day at the park, since we could not drive across the park, we drove around the southern end of the park and up the eastern side.  Our destination was the hotel at Many Glacier, which I remembered had one of the greatest views from the front windows.  In front of the hotel is a lake and beyond that two glacial valleys extend out like the arms of the letter “v”.

Big disappointment No. 2 ensued.  We drove for THREE AND A HALF HOURS through constant rain to get there and this is what we got to see. 



Again, all was not lost.  On the way back (another 3 1/2 hour drive) we did get to see a couple of black bears


and a moose cow and calf.


I forgot to mention in the last post that during our drive up the west side of the park we had an interesting deer encounter.  Driving down the gravel road we saw a small white tail doe eating something in the middle of the road.  We drove to within 50 ft and she just stayed there.  I got out, closing the car door, got my camera, closing the back car door an took this picture which speaks for itself.


I got back in and drove towards her.  We got to about 15 ft from her before she backed off a few steps and watched us go by.  Then she went back to eating whatever it was. 

Final Glacier note-I loved the tour buses.


Glacier National Park 1

Also disappointment no.1-not the park’s fault actually.  The problem was that the Rising to the Sun Road which goes across the middle of the park was closed for its entire middle section-snow.  That meant we could not get up into the high country where the really spectacular views are found.  We could only go 14 miles into the part.  However, all was not lost.  Check out this shot over Lake MacDonald .Image


All we could do was drive around the lake and up MacDonald Creek-which sure looked like a river to me.



We then drove up the west side of the part to a tiny historical town of Polebridge.  This is about it-but it is on the National Register of Historical Places.




This little store had incredible baked goods.  The cinnamon rolls looked like each one could feed a family of 6.


The view from there was rather impressive.Image

Along the way we encountered this slice of Americana in the middle of no where.  It is a bar, restaurant and store, which apparently does well when the season gets going. We just had some huckleberry ice cream.  Nice folks run it.


An indication of how well the place does was that, while we were there, the owner put 6 large briskets into his smoker and said it would last only a couple days.  His smoker was a monster and he talked like he was an expert at using it.




The Side Trip

eWe stayed an extra day in Stanley because Jeff said he would guide on a jeep trip up to an old mine way back in the mountains.  He was not kidding.  I drove the jeep with Jeff, Jeff’s sister Kathy and Joaquin north from Stanley about 40 miles and then east.  We had paved roads for a few miles during which we encountered one of nature’s phenomenons.  We say thousands ( millions?) of newly hatched crickets crossing the road.  The dark areas on the second photo are masses of small crickets. I suggest you blow these up.Image






Jeff explained that these little devils hatch in awesome numbers,with voracious appetites, and then head for the available food.  In other words, the farmer’s field on the left side of the road was toast.

I drove further on paved road, then good gravel road, then not so good gravel road, finally up a road that clearly required something like a jeep.  The really tough road started at the old mill for the mine-which has been closed for many years.  Look how far one can see from there.


The  mill processed the gold ore which was actually mined on the other side of a high ridge.  The ore was transported over that ridge with some sort of cable system.  Here is what is left of the building where the ore was received.


So we drove up, and then back on this road.  Some of the road was better than this, and some worse.  It was real work driving it.Image

The road took us to the top of the ridge which was at approximately 10,000 ft.  There was almost no vegetation but incredible views.Image



Finally, the jeep commercial




There are Stanley Basin, Lower Stanley, Upper Stanley, Stanley Lake, Stanley Creek, and undoubtedly other Stanleys as well.  All are named for Capt. John Stanley who led the expedition which discovered gold in the area in 1863.

There is a common misconception that I was named after this area as well.  My parents denied it.  Then they never gave me a decent explanation of where my name came from so who knows.

As I stated there are actually two towns named Stanley, a mile apart.  However they are lumped together.  Each used to have its own entrance sign but now there is only one.Image

63?  Are they really that small.  Well it depends. Jeff explained that the census is taken in April.  Like I said, the winters are very hard here so few people stay all year around.  When thing thaw out the population booms to maybe 400-500 for both towns.  That number may well be high since most people live outside the towns.  There are a lot of part-timers here.  No matter how you view it, the towns are small-and the area is virtually unspoiled.  

The larger town is Upper Stanley (ie,upstream).  It actually has a few streets off the highway, unlike Lower Stanley which is just building along Highway 75.  That being said, here is a picture of Upper Stanley’s main street, which is three blocks long.




Not pictured is the post office.  It is in Upper Stanley which finally won out.  You see, in the old day ( 20s. 30s ?) the two towns fought over which one got the one and only post office.  It would sit in one town until the men from the other town took their flat-bed truck over, jacked up the post office, put in on their truck an took it to their town.  There it would sit until the men from the first town took their flat-bed truck and reclaimed it.This went on for years but unfortunately I do not know how it ended. 

Another famous local tradition was the Stanley Stomp.  Rumor has it (OK, it was my brother Glenn) that in the old days there would be a dance in a local community hall on Saturday nights to which people came from hundreds of miles around to attend.  Everyone would get drunk and have a hooting and hollering good time.  Fights would break out and the local constable would figure out which side was losing and fight for them (Glenn, not even I believe this last part).  However, by the time I was old enough to attend, things had changed.  A refugee from the Southern California music scene named Casanova Jack had bought the Rod and Gun Club in town and the Stanley Stomp occurred there on Saturday nights.  Cassanova Jack did a passable Elvis imitation and always managed to scrounge up some people to play with him.  Rich folks from Sun Valley came up-I saw Tennessee Ernie Ford sing a few songs one night.  A friend told me about sitting on the sidewalk drunk when Bert Reynolds sat down alongside him.  I saw very few fights but a lot of drinking, dancing and people having an old fashioned country good time.  Eventually Casanova Jack drank himself to death and his brother John took over the Rod and Gun Club.  I was long gone by them.  When I came back I found that the Stanley Stomp as I knew it was dead.  Now they have a street dance twice a year and call it the Stanley Stomp. A pale alternative.  Even the Rod and Gun Club sign has been whimped down-see below.

However, we were just in there on a Saturday night and the place has hopping-if you were 25.  Oh, well.



Upper Stanley sits at the corner of Highway 21 ( from Boise) and Highway 75 (from Sun Valley).  Years ago, Bill Harrah built a small motel, restaurant and shops complex on that corner.  About a quarter mile behind those buildings they put in a hot tub building on Valley Creek which flows into the Salmon just a bit down stream.  The hot tub is fed by a natural hot spring.  There are actually hot springs all over central Idaho.  Check out the view from this one which is in the building on the left in the photo.Image  

Leaving Stanley tomorrow, but have one more post from here.   Jeff guided us up an old mining road to a ridge about 10,000 ft elevation.  Amazing trip.
















































































Here we are at a scenic overlook a few miles west of Stanley on the road to Boise.  We stopped here and took a group photo on our way to our first pack trip.  Then a photo here became a tradition.Image

Here is Henri when he is whining for food-which is often.Image

Here is Gus  being Gus.  He was working on a stick at the time, which is almost as good as chasing a ball.  Lots of sticks here.


travels with gus and henri