Yellowstone May 18, 2012

Until evening, the day was uneventful — dark, wet and stormy.

I pulled up stakes in the morning to move camp to the Norris Campground, which was opening that morning.

As evening approached, the clouds began to break up and I decided to head for the Northern Range, having been in the Hayden Valley and Lake areas earlier.

I never made it to the Northern Range.  When I arrived at Swan Lake Flat, I saw a bear jam breaking up.  Quad Mom & her cubs had disappeared back into the trees and sage on the east side of the flat.  Well, I suspected they would show up further north, so I drove a mile or so north to a pull out and parked.  They arrived almost immediately at a run.

I think they were hoping to beat the line of cars and get around it.  They stopped to check out the opportunity for crossing the road.

There was no opportunity as, by this time, cars were four abreast lining the road.  I got into my car to see if I had cell phone signal.  I had one bar — enough to call and suggest Rangers were needed there before the line of cars not allowing the family to cross the road herded the grizzlies into Mammoth (only a slight exaggeration).   By the time it was said and done, it took four Rangers to manage the situation.

While the Rangers worked at establishing a gap through which the grizzlies could cross the road, the family occupied itself with grazing on grass and roots.

I enjoyed every golden second of my time with them.

When they crossed the road, I decided to return to camp a little early this evening and enjoy a beautiful rib-eye steak with roasted veggies and a beer and relax and watch the bison in the meadow.

Dinner was anything BUT relaxing.  When I pulled into the camp spot, I observed a raven getting into a trash bag sitting outside the pop-up tent trailer in the camp site next to mine.  I marched over and knocked on the door and told the women inside that they could not leave trash outside, that a raven was already tearing it open and they would be bringing bears into camp.  The woman at the door assured me she hunts in grizzly country so knows all about…

She humored me, though.  She started to put the trash bag in the pop-up tent trailer and I said it needed to go into her vehicle or to a bear proof garbage can and that their cooler needed to go in the vehicle, too.   She made a comment about “too many tents.”  I told her I, too, was in a tent and that was part of the reason I was anal about not only my own campsite being scrupulously clean, but also those around me.  She was very friendly (even gave me some spuds) and did store everything properly at that point.

I started to prepare my dinner.  I observed that same raven steal stuff from tables — not stuff that had been left unattended — people were right there!  That raven perched in a tree staring at me.  Before starting dinner, I had hooked up my inverter to charge/run my computer off the car battery so I could download photos.  I needed to shut that off.

The raven had left, but I knew he wasn’t far away and that he was likely watching for an opportunity, so I covered my steak, in the cast iron skillet on the camp stove, with a lid, and covered the lid with the handle of my spade (which I always have out if I have a campfire).  I started to walk the 15 feet to the car.  I didn’t even make it that far before I heard raven wings (ravens are very noisy flyers).  That damn bird pulled that beautiful rib-eye steak right out of the pan from under the lid and the shovel handle!

I grabbed the shovel and gave chase.  Somehow, in the land where cameras outnumber people on at least a 2 to 1 ratio, no one managed to get video of me chasing the raven with my shovel.  No, I didn’t particularly want the steak back, but I didn’t want that bird to enjoy it and I didn’t want it on the ground, either.  I recovered it, placed it in a plastic garbage bag, tied that and put it in the trunk while I ate my veggies (which I had put in the car after roasting them to prevent the raven from absconding with them).  That raven glared at me as though I was being spiteful.  I said “I might not be eating steak tonight, but neither are you!!!”   When I finished eating my miserly meal of veggies (really not a bad meal, but not what I had been anticipating) and was carrying my trash bag (containing the steak) to a bear-proof garbage can, that raven stalked me.  I did not attempt to cook any more meals at the Norris Campground.

More photos here: http://www.bigskycountry.net/yellowstone_may26_2012

7 comments to Yellowstone May 18, 2012

  • Pat Wilson

    First off–I absolutely love your pictures of Quad Bear and her cubs!! Beautiful work–thank you so much for sharing!! Fabulous!!

    Second–hahahaha–absolutely loved your story of the raven and your food! Sorry about your steak! Crazy ravens!!

    You are so right about not leaving garbage out–not safe for sure in a pop-up trailer!! Thank you for sticking to your guns!!

    Absolutely loving your postings! Thank you!

  • AJ

    Thanks to your excellent narrative, I’m sitting here laughing at the thought of your chasing a raven with a steak. Good one. “It’s always something, isn’t it?” Ravens have gotten so much larger over the years too. Maybe they’re eating Bison steak regularly now.

  • Dad

    Never More, Never More, quote the raven Never More!

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