Kevin’s Birthday was upon us but he didn’t want any presents. What he did want was a photographic adventure to Yellowstone. On his wish list to capture in photos were, COY’s, Badgers & Babies( are they called kits or cubs?), Pikas, & especially Quad Mom & the little one & his/her sibling. Kevin’s wish came true & a whole lot more!
We left early & ascended the Beartooth Highway around 7:00 am. The scenery, as always was spectacular & traffic was non-existent. We made it to The Northeast Entrance by 8:30. We continued through the Lamar Valley to Tower without stopping. We didn’t see any animals but did pass the wolf watchers set up by Footbridge. Again The Tower Campground sign said “Full”, but we went in anyway. Another trailer was hot on our heels! We pulled in & saw the host. We stopped to ask if there was space. Bad move. The trailer behind us pulled out & passed us taking what looked like to be the last space available. We thought that was it but as we rounded the corner to leave the campground, we saw what looked like someone packing up. They were & we were very lucky to get the last spot! We settled in & headed out.Anxious to see if Quad Mom was out, we headed for Swan Lake. She was out there but a long ways out. So we continued on & decided to head for The Hayden Valley. Not a creature to be found anywhere. We turned around at Storm Point & decided to check out The LeHardy Rapids. We walked down to the rapids without any equipment & Kevin exclaimed “Harlequins”! What a surprise! They were still here after all. He raced back to our vehicle to get the big lens. I watched as The Harlequins surfed & dove in the high, rushing water. Amazingly strong swimmers. Kevin set up & captured some really neat shots of this artistically painted duck. After swimming & diving for about 15 minutes, they decided to nap on a couple of rocks in the middle of the river as the sun warmed & dried their beautiful feathers.
Thrilled with our first surprise encounter, we continued our pursuit back towards Swan Lake. We stopped at Sheepeater to look for Pikas but found a huge crowd instead. One more look for Quad Mom. No sign of her & the kids. We went down The Gardner Canyon to look for the baby sheep. There was one standing high up on a rock ledge with Mom but no way to get a good shot. We headed back towards Mammoth & saw a new baby elk calf & her Mom near the river. We set up the camera & captured a dramatic & scary scene. Mom decided that they would need to cross the river! The river was high & brown, rolling at capacity over boulders & logs. Mom stepped in & swam half way across, stopping near a huge log to wait for her calf. The calf hesitated & then jumped in! We held our breath as Kevin clicked away at the drama unfolding.
the calf made it to the half way point & got a kiss & reassurance from Mom but the worst was yet to come as the calf was swept downstream & out of our sight!
But then all was well & Mom & calf were together again with one more crossing to go.
to be continued….