Homeward Bound

The last half day of my solo camping trip in Yellowstone National Park came too soon.  I was still having fun!

After putting away the tent, etc., I, like the previous 3 mornings, headed for the Swan Lake area hoping, once again, to see the mama griz with four cubs.  I spotted a familiar vehicle at a pullout and pulled in next to Dave Shumway.  He told me they’d been seen but were currently out of site.  After a not-too-long wait, they emerged from behind a rise, but still much obscured by the sagebrush.  By that time Dave and I were at different pullouts.

I had set up Dad’s scope and was watching the fivesome “up close and personal” at 78x and visiting with a family watching through their scope.  When the bears got close enough that I became optimistic of photos I set up my camera tripod.  Upon seeing my Canon camera, the man I was visiting with asked if I knew much about Canon cameras and then asked if I knew what a “CF Error” meant.  He was afraid his camera was dead.  I told him I was fairly sure it was his CF card that had crapped out and offered to loan him one of mine for a test and so he’d be able to get photos of the bear family.  He most gratefully accepted my offer. A quick test proved his camera to be fine.  I told him 2GB CF cards were conveniently available at the Mammoth Gas Station for twenty bucks (more expensive than elsewhere but well worth the price to be able to take photos of the family trip to Yellowstone) and that he could use mine for the bears, download to his notebook, return it to me  and go get a replacement there in Mammoth.

That settled, optimism reigned.  The bears were headed straight for us and showing every indication that they’d cross the road right where we were.  Then…  a little red car pulled off the road on the bear’s side, dragging muffler/tailpipe.  The screech was painful to everyone present, and changed the bears’ course.  The uncharitable and unworthy thought “I hope it’s an expensive repair” crossed my mind, I’ll confess.

Nonetheless, I did get to see the family at a reasonably close distance.  The hopes for a closer encounter and good photos that I had so briefly held were crushed by the red car.

A Treat

Dave Shumway, meanwhile, had trotted down to the next pullout, where the family DID cross, and has much better photos in his online gallery for his trip.

Nonetheless, I’m mindful that it’s a rare treat to see a grizzly with four cubs and I’m grateful for the experience.  Speaking of grateful, the guy with my CF card was beyond grateful for its use allowing him to get pictures of the griz family (he hoofed down to the same pullout as Dave so probably has some good photos, too). Instead of taking time to download before parting company, he asked if I had enough cards that I could part with one and just sell it to him. Deal.

I pulled out happy to have seen the bears and happy to have done my good deed for the day and headed for the Lamar.

Just around the curve in the road to the east of the Yellowstone Picnic Area I came upon a small but growing bear jam where I met and had a nice visit with fellow YNETTER photosbycharleen before continuing east as far as the Pebble Creek CG before turning west to begin to head in a generally homeward direction.

Along the way, I stopped briefly to take the photo of these rule breakers on the Soda Butte Geyser cone.
Shame On You!

I trust they can read (Alabama plates, so I’m confident English is their primary language) so I’m completely baffled as to why they think the rules against climbing on the feature, clearly posted on signage right there at Soda Butte, don’t apply to them. Shame! I took a photo of their license plate, too, hoping to come upon a Ranger but as luck would have it I didn’t see a single Ranger all day.

My “generally homeward” course of travel took me over Dunraven Pass where I was attacked by the nap monster and was forced to pull over. I set my iPod alarm to go off in one hour and it was immediately lights out. When I woke up I discovered I had slept through a bear jam caused by the Dunraven sow and pair of cubs who had just gone out of sight. Doh!

I then went south as far as Fishing Bridger where I turned east to see if Circus Bear was putting on a show. A storm was brewing over Yellowstone Lake.

Before The Storm

Circus Bear was a no-show, so after quick detour up to Lake Butte Overlook, I turned around. In just that brief period of time the storm had passed and blue skies were making a return.

After the Storm

My drive back to Canyon, west to Norris, south to Madison and out via the West gate was uneventful. Herds of bison along the Madison saw me off until next time.

Growin' Up

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