Saturday, May 31, 2008

The joys of Yellowstone

I find myself thinking about this time last year when we were in Yellowstone experiencing all the joy of nature there - the bears and their cubs, the coyote pups, the owl chicks, the wolves, and the natural beauty there. Each day was always a new adventure as we drove the roads looking for wildlife. After discovering the Yellowstone Newspaper and the Yellowstone Net Discussion Forums I continued to enjoy Yellowstone activities and events vicariously.

I still dream of going to Yellowstone in the winter months and driving the north road hoping to see the wolves bounding along near the road in the snow.

I sometimes wonder if people who have never been to Yellowstone or who have never spent time with the wolf watchers understand how much these wild wolves have come to mean to the people that spend so much time watching, studying, and enjoying these wild creatures.

We've been there several times since the wolves were reintroduced. The first time they were still heavily monitoring the pack movements with the radio collars. You could count on the presence of the people with the monitoring antenaes in the upper end of Lamar Valley. Not only could you listen to them talk to themselves about where the wolves were, they knew each one individually.

Through the years, you can still find the wolf watchers, although their location varies. There is a lingo (I don't know it) about the different watching sites in Lamar Valley - names like trashcan (for a long removed trash can landmark). My personal favorite watching spots involve a hike up a steep hill to get a better look at one of the older denning sites. I have very special memories of watching a morning reunion of the pack there.

I went to those sites last year. One morning there was a group of people and I got a good look at the wolves through my binoculars. The next morning I found myself up in position by myself. I was rewarded by a short wolf siting as they entered the older den area.

From the Yellowstone Newspaper today, I found Kathie Lynch's blog that echoes this inexplicable wonder from one of the wolf enthusiasts at Yellowstone. She uses words so eloquently to describe wolf activities she just witnessed. It will inspire you to make the trek to see these wonders yourself.

Most people who go to Yellowstone are on a tight time deadline. They have a few days to see a huge park. A large number of people go through on a bus that will show them the highlights, but will probably not give them very much time to wait and hope to see one of the elusive wolves. And even when you know where you are likely to spot an individual wolf or the pack, you wont' get a sighting every time.

And perhaps this unpredictable reinforcer of sometimes getting to see the wolves and sometimes not makes each sighting that much more special. I can truthfully say that there is something extremely joyful about spotting that elusive wolf (or bear) going about its natural activities. For me, watching the animals in Yellowstone feeds something within my spirit.

It is unlikely that I will get to return this summer, but I treasure the extended time I had in Yellowstone this time last year.

No comments: