Monday, October 19, 2009

Autumn's muted colors in Yellowstone

A Mammoth Hot Springs victim 
The Springs has its own special art

Suspension bridge over Hellroaring Creek
A look from the bridge 
Look who comes a callin' at Mammoth
This was the most colorless autumn I can recall.
A very hot September was followed by a deep freeze for a couple of weeks in October before the trees began to turn. So what we’ve had are brown, rather than golden or orange leaves. They’re falling to the ground fast.
We took off for Yellowstone Park on Friday hoping for some color, but we were disappointed to find the same situation there. What leaves are left are brown. Not much color around.
However, we were treated to gorgeous Indian summer weather with temperatures in the mid-60s and clear skies on Saturday.
We were out looking for wolves focusing our search on the Lamar Valley.
There were reports of up to nine wolves in the Hellroaring Pack. We saw a clutch of people near an overlook who had spotted the pack, but we couldn’t find a place to park to see them ourselves.
We returned later in the day and had a feeble look through a scope from this same overlook revealing what looked to be one wolf.
We enjoyed a nice walk in the Lamar Valley, saw plenty of bison, but no wolves.
We had to satisfy ourselves with the elk we could see in herds in the Hellroaring area and in the Mammoth Hot Springs townsite.
Walking the suspension bridge on the Hellroaring trail was a highlight of a short backcountry trip.
Otherwise we went as far east as Cooke City. There was snow in the high country peaks around this isolated town.
Gardiner, Montana is always our base for exploring Yellowstone.
It is quirky enough to keep things interesting.
There’s a new Yellowstone Park Association interpretive center and store at the end of the main drag near the arch.
There were elk and deer throughout the town.
The nice weather brought the locals into Gardiner and filled restaurants.
However, the park itself had plenty of elbow room and we had corners of it to ourselves.

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