Here is what I don’t get, this was one of the most spectacular overpassses I have have ever seen, and I have seen a lot. There was essentially no one on the road, maybe three American couples and five European couples. I guess it is good few people go here, because it will perserve it. But nonetheless, if you have a chance to drive it in peak fall color, you will be blown away.
Hayden Valley Yellowstone
As a child I used to be sung to sleep in a cabin by Fish Creek in The Tetons by the wolves howling in the distant mountains. I was quite sad to hear they had all been annihilated and hopeful when the wolves were reintroduced to their home territory in 1995. I can now testify that THE WOLVES RULE THE NIGHT IN YELLOWSTONE ONCE AGAIN!
We asked a ranger where the best wildlife viewing options were in Yellowstone and she advised us to get to the HaydenValley just before dusk, as wolves were active in the area, and had made a recent kill. We left around 6pm. En-route we saw a lone wolf resting by a herd of about 300 buffalo, including calves. The wolf was resting, biding his time, waiting.
We arrived at HaydenValley just before sunset and very quickly spotted three resting wolves, one grey and two black. The wolves were strategically positioned around a largish herd of elk that were already highly alerted and terrified. The bucks were on land trying to protect the herd, blowing and warning. Most of the rest of the herd around 50 or so were tightly clustered on a shoal in the center of the Yellowstone River. Scattered mothers with calves were standing in the middle of the river clearly terrified.
The wolves were resting, biding their time, waiting. Letting the herd agitate and get cold.
Most likely this had been going on long before we arrived. Very soon after the sunset, the wolves started to rouse. They stood up. Stretched like dogs, and began to move, slowly at first, in a walk, than a slow trot.
This caused blowing and bellowing from the bulls.
All of a sudden all three wolves were at a full run, streaking like bullets in unison, and precise formation, at INCREDIBLE speed, from their three different locations, fanning out after the herd.
The herd starting screaming and running, helter-skelter, in blind terror.
Watching with binoculars, we saw the three wolves converge on the racing elk. We saw one bull hit, several times by the wolves, but not taken down. The entire elk herd were screaming now at full volume. Running in total pandemonium. The wolves pursued the elk into and out of the river. Several elk who broke from the herd escaped towards us and many other elk escaped up-river in the water. But the hunt continued after it became completely dark and the wolves communicated by howling to each other as darkness fell and the hunt continued.
It was incredible. I have never experienced the panic of the hunted as immediately and personally as I did for these elk. The challenge for the wolves seeming so daunting, that I was rooting for both victim and prey simultaneously. We left driving carefully back to the lodge in the dark, just pumped up with adrenalin that took quite awhile to subside.
We also saw another grizzly on a back country hike earlier the same day, but he was father away and we had our pepper spray. Lots of Buffalo on the road as well, and of course scenic Yellowstone in the fall.
But nothing compared to the wolves.
Yellowstone Lake Hotel where we stayed is near HaydenValley and closes in a week. I think this is one of the best times to visit Yellowstone as the animals are clustering in preparation for winter and the crowds of humans have thinned markedly.
There are an estimated 98 wolves in Yellowstone now, in ten packs. They are ruling once again!
My husband, Jim, handed me a travelogue he kept of our Antarctica trip in 2008. I had forgotten that we both had written trip journals and it is interesting to see a lot of the details I had forgotten. The following include excerpts of these travel journals that weren’t included in my prior post.
Day 1-2: Jim’s notes state that we cross the 400 mile Drake Passage with Beaufort force 3 winds. The Beaufort Scale winds range from force 1-12, and relate wind speed to observable effects on land and sea. Force 3 winds are gentle breezes that create wavelets that begin to break, causing whitecaps, i.e., easy-peasy seas.
We pass the Antarctic Convergence in the afternoon. This is a continuously circling body of water where cold Antarctic waters converge with warmer subantarctic waters, causing the colder water to sink, leading to upwelling where marine life is intensely prevalent, including pelagic birds such as several types of Albatross, and Skuas.* The Antarctic convergence is the largest biological barrier on earth. Crossing the convergence marks entry into the Southern Ocean which has it’s own currents. We are entering the world’s largest wilderness, with the highest concentrations of wildlife on the planet. It is also the coldest, highest, windiest, iciest and least visited of all the continents i.e. PARADISE!
Day 3- Reach Elephant Island part of the South Shetland Isands, that is named after resident elephant seals. Along with the seals there are several species of penguins. Air & water temperature mid-day, 1 degree. Floating icebergs becoming impressive. Our naturalist explains that most of the bergs we are seeing now come from The Wedell Sea, via The Antarctic Sound. When we leave this area, we will be sailing on seas that will be covered in sea ice all winter.
Day 4- Cross the Antarctic Sound enroute to the Esperanza Research Station run by Argentina. Winds are force 8, which is gale force, wind knots 34-40, waves 18-25 feet. Cannot attempt Esperanza due to conditions. By mid-afternoon, weather improves dramatically, captain sets course towards to Admiralty Bay on King George Island. We reach the Chilean and Polish Research Stations and visit with the Polish Scientists, who after many attempts board our ship for dinner. By now penguins are everywhere in the millions, Gentoo, Macaroni, Chinstrap and Adele. Later we will see Kings. The weather is excellent and the scenery magnificent. Sun sets at 1 am rises at 4 am.
Day 5- Captain sets course south through The Branfields Strait. Continue southerly course. Navigate through the incredible Gerlach Strait. Force 3 winds, air temp 1 degree mid-day. Ice surrounds us everywhere. The ship, navigated by the ice pilot, seems to sail through ice not water. It is daunting. Growlers slam against the hull. We hold our breath when the ship approaches the larger ones, they bang along the hull making constant noise.
Day 6- We head to the Neymayer Channel with incredible scenery, glaciers calving into the ocean, craggy cliffs, ice precipes and peaks, boundless untouched snow and ice, sea mammals, birds and penguins everywhere. They are friendly and approach. We see Wedell, Crabeater and Leopard Seals, Orca, Humpback and Minke whales.
Day 7- Course to Deception Island, a collapsed volcanic caldera. Deception Bay is stunning and the island is full of very smelly, very friendly penguins. The waters are warmed by volcanic process which also makes the island the most ice-free that we saw. You can take a dip if you choose. The water is a mixture of very hot and cold currents, moving in little riverlets around you. Weather this day was gray, foggy, and overcast.
Day 8- Course north back through The Drake Passage. As we cross the convergence, the temperature rises to 7 degrees, the warmest in a week! Again we have smooth seas and the albatross are our friends. Enroute to the stunning Beagle Channel and Strait of Magellan.
Towards the end, we get our roughest weather yet, force 9 winds, 41-47 knots, waves 23-32 feet. Strong gale. Wow! It was spectacular and unforgiving. And then we are in the blissful Beagle Channel, through the straight of Magellan to Chile.
We are going back in 2013, to Patagonia & The Beagle Channel. Less than 30,000 people are visiting Antarctica annually now.
* Note: we saw a similar fascinating upwelling phenomena crossing out of the Sargasso Sea which is essentially a large gyro, an ocean bounded and defined by currents. We sailed through the Canary Current where the upwelling attracted scores of Blue Whales, Pilot Whales, Orcas and other marine life, everywhere in incredible quantity! The Sargasso Sea itself seems desert like. Crossing it for eight days, we saw no animals, birds, or ships. Will write about this trip, that we did this year, in another post.
i think the reason
i am reluctant
to share photos
is because I covet them
you are unable
or even at all
is the earth
as it was made
how harmful we
to the rest of our
you see the glory
and fear the potential
death of it
if you haven’t been
you haven’t seen
in the ice
you can feel
in the world too
if you look
with an open mind
but in antarctica
it was an epiphany
maybe it is good
that in 2008
people had been there
if more of us
we might have made of it
what we have
of the rest of the planet
it is the last
of our world
than we are
our sacred places