Saturday, March 24, 2012

Yellowstone Part II

Continued from Yellowstone Part I, January 2012.

Within a mile of entering the park we were greeted by these happy campers from high above. They were giving quite a show and seemed content on their rocky cliffs. Some head butting, jumping and chasing, and tricky foot-work had us both laughing and holding our breath at the same time. Mountain Goats are abundant throughout the Gardner and Mammoth areas with it's many cliffs and outcroppings. We ended up watching their antics for the better part of half an hour. They were in no hurry, but we had things to do!The next stop was the Mammoth Hot Springs area. The springs themselves are very active from all the thermal activity and the entire area belches smoke like a witch's cauldron. Rising well above the valley floor, the terraces are eerie in the winter landscape, but full of beautiful colors and icicle laden trees. The boardwalk provides a great stroll "through" the many pools and bubbling streams. It was interesting to note the depth of the snow as much as two to three feet while water too hot to touch was merely inches away. The vapor turning to ice and clinging to gnarly tree branches sparkled and reflected light and the yellows and blues of the mineral deposits.

View from the terraces across Mammoth Village to the northeast. The Absoroka range in the distance.

"Falls" and deposits. This whole thing is a massive "bulge" from the surrounding valley and hillside. Elaborate deposits of blue, yellow, green and brown.

Despite the beauty of this "alien" landscape, the Lamar Valley and it's wildlife beckoned. With thoughts of wolves, grizzlies, buffalo and elk, we put the steaming springs behind us and into the valley we went.

Images are "clickable"

to be continued......

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Moose Encounter, Gallatin River 10 March 2012

We spent Saturday and it's incredible 60 degree temps and blue-bird sky fishing and exploring the Gallatin River from the Axtel bridge to Big Sky. It was a great day and met us with a few surprises as well.

The above photo is of the Gallatin River looking northeast with the Bridger Range providing the backdrop. Bozeman is located near the foothills of the Bridgers in the far center of the photo. This is a beautiful, sprawling section with wide open views and a never-ending sky. Our exploration would take us up river to the south towards Yellowstone NP through the canyon separating the Madison and Gallatin Mountain Ranges.

Upon entering the canyon south on highway 191, we happened upon a yellow lab which appeared to be injured. Since this is a very dangerous stretch of tight, canyon road, we assisted some other folks in stopping traffic and getting the dog calmed down and out of traffic. As the Mrs. coaxed the dog off the road, he responded with a flop onto his back for a belly rub and his tail never stopped wagging. Thankfully it appeared to have no internal injuries or broken bones, only some minor scrapes and cuts. She cleaned his wounds from the shoulder of the road while another good Samaritan attempted to reach the owners listed on the tag. Since they lived very near the area, up went the dog into the back of their car for a link-up with the owners while we continued south.

Some really beautiful stretches of river gave us an opportunity for rainbows, brookies, and cutthroats. We had several trout rise and follow the bait, but it was apparent they were not born yesterday and decided to tease us instead. The tranquil settings and warm breezes easily outweighed the lack of bites and soon fishing evolved into exploring.

Above: Wifey casting into the current on the Gallatin River.

Above: Gallatin River vicinity Stormcastle.

Just downstream from the above photo we stumbled upon not one, but two moose! I have to say it is a heart pounding experience getting within 30 yards of these magnificent beasts especially when not knowing if it was with a calf and therefore potentially dangerous. Thankfully it was a pair of cows which were much more concerned with munching pine needles than us pesky trekkers with cameras. The second came into view shortly after the first, wow! We were lucky enough to be in a position to maintain a safe distance with good tree cover should they get aggressive or shy. For the next 15 minutes we watched and photo'd these two lovely ladies as they ate and finally lye down in the snow for a rest. Bumping into moose while exploring is an incredible experience as it is, but along the banks of the Gallatin in a deep canyon was simply amazing!

Trout = zero, moose = 2, rescued dog = 1. Not a bad day at all in the Gallatin Valley!

All photos are "clickable"