Spring 2019 Trip Report (May 25 - June 7)

Share your latest adventure in Yellowstone.

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Max
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Spring 2019 Trip Report (May 25 - June 7)

Post by Max » Tue May 28, 2019 5:02 am

For the first time I debated whether to write anything. I'm giving it a go, and will try to post updates with links to my full reports here. Normally I will just include a picture, short excerpt and a link to my blog posts in this thread.

This first report is a little different, as I thought it would be appropriate to share my thoughts about my conflicted feelings about writing the reports themselves. This is relevant, after all, since Y-Net is where I started this practice on every trip since 2005.

If you want to skip the philosophical stuff, click here to read the report and jump to half-way down the page.

--

Image

May 25, 2019

Friday was National Road Trip Day. So naturally I cancelled my Friday road trip and stayed home an extra day. Hooray for family time! But that did mean I had a long Saturday in store. Forgoing the Memorial Day Weekend visit to Idaho that’s taken place the last few years, I made a beeline for the park. “Beeline” hints at a rapid pace though, doesn’t it? The drive actually took fourteen hours. And I didn’t even stop for a nap. Slacker.

Despite the extended drive, I still managed to arrive in Yellowstone with a bit of daylight left. I had prepped my cameras before I entered the park just in case. But nothing much happened on the drive through to the northeast. Until I reached the Lamar Valley. Two-thirds of the way along the valley floor, a roadside crowd was forming as a grizzly bear walked through the sage a short ways away. I measured the angle of its progress and wove past semi-parked cars to pull ahead, where I found a safe spot to pull (all the way) off the road. I was just ahead of where the bear had vanished behind a short hill, so as long as it didn’t alter its trajectory, I figured I might get a good view out of the window. Twenty seconds later…

Read the first full report from Days 0 to 2.

Max
Last edited by Max on Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:09 am, edited 4 times in total.



YNPjeepers
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Re: Spring 2019 Trip Report

Post by YNPjeepers » Tue May 28, 2019 10:20 am

Max, I’ve been wondering when you and your trip reports would show up again. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one, especially your philosophical thoughts. I understand the hesitation to share locations or join in with a large crowd. We can all set the example by doing the right thing ourselves and hope it will have an impact.
I have to say, not only for my own selfish reasons but also for those who cannot visit; I hope you continue to post something, anything, in this particular forum. Even your “bad” photos are amazing to all of us, especially people who are physically or financially unable to come here in person. And the details surrounding the photos make me feel like I’m right there. This place is where I have gained the most knowledge and resulting pleasure about what has become my favorite area to visit. The first few times I visited the park, I stayed in the lower half simply because I could not find much information about what was in the upper half of the park and my time and money was limited. I had no idea how beautiful, and how many amazing adventures were also waiting to be had farther north, until I saw a Y-NET magnet on several vehicles one year. That’s how I discovered this amazing site. I appreciate everyone who has helped me have a better experience and that is why I try to post some of my own for others to hopefully enjoy and learn. The reason I say please post something here? Well believe it or not there are many people like me who refuse to join all of those social media sites that are accompanied by so many other unwanted issues. Ultimately, whatever you decide has to be the best decision for you and your family. I have much respect and gratitude for everything you’ve already given us. Thank you Max!


I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.
Henry David Thoreau

lah
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Re: Spring 2019 Trip Report

Post by lah » Tue May 28, 2019 10:18 pm

Max, you have to do what you feel is necessary, and I'd support anything that you decide.
But I have always loved learning from you, as well as loved every one of your pictures. I hope you don't deprive us of those things.
If you don't want to divulge where things happened, that's okay. Others are doing that, too.
But I figure just because a bear or wolf is in a certain place one day doesn't mean it will be there a day or a week later. It may be, but it may be far away, too. Much of it, for me at least, is just dumb luck if I find something good.
Anyway, thanks for all you've done for me!



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Max
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Re: Spring 2019 Trip Report

Post by Max » Wed May 29, 2019 11:45 pm

Thank you, guys. Hopefully I'll have time to come up with another report soon. Right now, my brain is fried and I'm forcing myself to sleep in tomorrow (even if that means 6am)!

Max



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Nordwil
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Re: Spring 2019 Trip Report

Post by Nordwil » Thu May 30, 2019 12:45 pm

Max, I understand your sentiment but hope you continue as well. I look forward to reading about your experiences and am continually inspired and challenged by your energy, enthusiasm and body of work!



Dorothy
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Re: Spring 2019 Trip Report

Post by Dorothy » Thu May 30, 2019 11:49 pm

Max, I'll echo what's been said here and add a little of my own.

I have so enjoyed your reports and your photos over the years. I discovered this site quite a few years ago when I was taking my mom to the park looking for animals (she was in her 80s at the time, and we took her to to park several times a year until her late 90s). This site (including your wonderful reports) helped me figure out the best places to go to look for animals, and we had some wonderful experiences, partly thanks to everyone who posted here. Yes, animals are not always in the same place, but some tips about a carcass or a den in the area did give us a better chance to catch a glimpse of things we might have missed without the help. We were rookies in those early years, and all you guys helped us a lot. Mom couldn't get out of the car much, so having a chance to see things from the road/car was a real boon.

So I DO appreciate locations (or at least areas) of where to look for some specifics -- it has helped me a lot. Nowadays, as I'm more experienced in where (and when) to look for animals, I don't need so much help, but I'm always appreciative when I get an idea of where some animals are being seen

That said, I understand the hesitation, too, and do see where it can cause problems for animals (and rangers) with large, sometimes not-very-well-behaved, crowds.

So, I think people should do what the feel comfortable with -- when I write, I often times include locations (just because I now KNOW what to call some places, and it makes me feel like an "insider" :)) and because I like to think I may help someone else as you all helped me over the years (and, when it comes down to it, I'm generally so late in writing and an exact location isn't going to do anyone that much good, it becomes more of a "general location" that something has been). But that's just me, and I don't resent it when others only give general areas. There are good reasons for that.

Max, I would love for your to keep posting in whatever detail you feel comfortable with -- your photos are always amazing (that mallard over the lake is astounding!) and I love the way you write. And I, as mentioned above, am one of those who is NOT on many (or really any) social media sites where apparently all these things are being posted immediately. I enjoy reading/seeing photos of trips whether they're immediate or quite a ways in the past, simply because I love the parks and love to experience it through other people's eyes and other's experiences and reactions. This is one of the very few places I can come and do that. And as a wanna-be wildlife photographer, I absolutely love all the great photographs on this site and have learned so much about photography from many of you.

But of course, Max, you can only do what works for you (it IS time consuming -- I'm experiencing that as I try to put in a little something about our early May trip, and it still hasn't made it to the forum). Whatever that is, I will always appreciate anything you can/do post and forever appreciate what you have already shared.



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Max
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Spring 2019 Trip Report, Days 3 - 5

Post by Max » Fri May 31, 2019 12:38 am

Image

May 28, 2019

How To Write an Opening to Each Yellowstone Trip Report:


1) Mention what time you woke up/hit the road.

2) Mention the weather.

3) Mention how slow the Lamar Valley is.

Only four hours of sleep before the alarm went off, and maybe this sluggishness contributed to a delayed departure. The goal on Tuesday was to head south again, but I wasn’t out the door until 5:15 [√]. It was already getting light, so it was easy to see that our damp Monday was well in the rear view mirror [√].

Though the Lamar looked better on this morning, it remained quiet [√]. A low blanket of fog was draped over the valley, obscuring the ridgelines and any views of distant peaks. About halfway through the valley I could just peek under the edge of the foggy blanket southward to clear skies beyond. It was looking as though a pretty nice day was in store.

Just past Lamar Canyon, folks were setting up scopes and tripods. I thought maybe wolves were in sight, but it was actually a trio of grizzly bears, a little ways up the north hillside. Just a bit too far for photos, and I had a potential appointment with another grizzly family further south anyway.

Things cleared up in Little America, but once I got onto Dunraven Pass is was as if Mt. Washburn felt cold and pulled that foggy blanket back over itself. Suddenly I couldn’t see more than 15 yards ahead on the road. Creepy elk head silhouettes peeked and bobbed above the roadside sage as I slowly drove up.

Finally, I broke free of the mist and was soaking in golden morning light. The wide swaths of pines north of the pass were glowing with a yellow tinge. It was a totally different feel from my silvery blue morning just a couple days before.

I was running behind, so I kept hoping to get a text from a friend, letting me know if I should bother to head west. We had agreed to possibly look for the grizzly bear family that’s been attracting attention over there, but knowing it would take me longer reach the area, I was hoping for some reaffirmation before committing to a western route.

The west side of the park feels like a foreign land to me. At one point I caught myself daydreaming about where I had placed my passport, so they could let me into Western Yellowstone. The west is also like a desert: vast stretches of terrain seemingly devoid of animal activity (dense tree cover makes spotted incredibly difficult), marked by an occasional oasis of life. This grizzly bear and her two little cubs occupied one such oasis the previous day, and the hope was they’d still be around on Tuesday.

Still no word from my contacts, so I committed to driving west toward Norris. Many times over the years I’ve expressed how tedious the Canyon-Norris drive can be. Thankfully, it’s short. But I still hoped like heck that those bears were around, because doing that drive twice in quick succession is a painful way to waste morning prime time.

I reached Norris and turned north, keeping an eye out for any little pockets of real estate housing bears. I started to see photographers I recognized driving in the opposite direction. Not a good sign… people could be moving on to other things. I wasn’t feeling particular good about my choice as I drove by a familiar vehicle. I recognized the driver… hey, it was the car that had pulled up next to me on Monday–“Hi Max!”–containing Someone-Other-Than-My-Cabin-Guests.

So I pulled over. Finally, a chance to apologize for the previous day’s mix-up. It turned out Liz and Mark follow my work online, and remembered me from a past bear sighting. We chatted a bit and then parted, each ready to continue our grizzly search. Before I could pull out though, a raven plopped onto the railing next to my car, so I rolled down my window to snap some close-ups. After all, I’m the last person to pass up a raven photo op.

Then I saw Liz running up to my car, exclaiming “they’re out!”

Continue reading the trip report from the last (exciting) three days in the blog.

Max



lah
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Re: Spring 2019 Trip Report (Updated through May 30)

Post by lah » Fri May 31, 2019 11:26 am

Such a great report with pictures to match. Outstanding stuff, Max! And, ha ha, I remember watching you trying to retrieve that lost memory card from between the seats of your old Honda at the Tower store parking lot. That was a fun grizzly shoot, too. Was that the Obsidian sow way back then? I remember she and the cubs walked right past my vehicle, probably even brushed up against it. I met Simon "Spirit Bear" Jackson that day as I invited him into the vehicle as the bears approached.



Dorothy
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Re: Spring 2019 Trip Report (Updated through May 30)

Post by Dorothy » Fri May 31, 2019 5:29 pm

Thanks for the great report and awesome photos. I can't wait to get there! I'll be following your reports right up until we get there (and probably while I'm there). Thanks again!



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Max
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Re: Spring 2019 Trip Report (Updated through May 30)

Post by Max » Fri May 31, 2019 10:08 pm

Thanks, Linda and Dorothy.

Linda, two other things I remember from that day:

While I had my rear half out of the car trying to pry the card loose, it proceeded to rain. Hard. To add insult to injury.

And you mentioned Simon. That was the day that I spent ten hours at Otter Creek waiting for the Canyon wolves, which didn't appear for the first time all week. Everyone else came and went that day (including Simon). Following that wasted effort and the memory card debacle, I quit the trip and went home a day early.

Max



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