Monday, June 28, 2010

well hello there

This morning my parents and I got up early (6 a.m.) and decided to drive the Upper Loop of the park before I had to report to work at 1:30 p.m. About halfway between Mammoth and Norris, 15 mins. after we left the house, we pulled up to a small (5 cars) bear jam. There were 2 grizzlies lying under a tree on the left side of the road, and after a minute they decided to cross.

(I wouldn't recommend getting out of the car and standing this close to grizzlies on the move, but hey, that's just me. We stayed in the car; my Aunt Penny will be happy to hear this.)

They crossed the road, and my mom asked me if they were two females. Then they started mating. "OH" she said.

It didn't last long, and this is a PG blog, so I'll just post some of the photos we took while we watched them dig for food.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

the theme is: bears

The theme of my parent's visit so far has been bears. More specifically, black bears. Until this afternoon, we hadn't seen any grizzlies. We've gotten so blase about black bears that today, when we spotted a bear jam for a black bear, we all decided to keep on driving instead of stopping. Yes, the Carr's voted to drive on to the shop instead of stopping for a bear off the side of the road. That should give you an idea of how many bears we've seen. Here's some of 'em:

This grizzly with her two cubs was spotted, coincidentally enough, at Grizzly Lake.

A special note for my Aunt Penny--these were shot with my telephoto lense and none of these bears were close enough to sniff my car bumper (again). I promise!

And of course, two of my coyote friends.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

black bears everywhere

My parents arrived yesterday afternoon, and we tore ourselves away from the Vienna Beef hot dogs and 312 Goose Island beer they brought to head out into the park for a drive. We hadn't gone more than 5 miles from our house when we encountered a massive bear jam for this cinnamon-colored black bear.

As we stood there, suddenly something else popped into frame--a cub of the year!

We watched them cross the road before we finally moved on. We drove on, across to Tower and then up and over Dunraven Pass. As we approached Tower Falls we got caught up in another black bear jam--this one had a bear on the left

and another one along the side of the road to the right.

We stopped for dinner at Roosevelt, our favorite place to eat in the park, and had a beer on the porch before dinner. As we left Roosevelt we pulled up to another jam--a coyote was on a kill and a small yearling black bear cub was trying to get on it.

The coyote was having none of it though, and it wasn't long before he gave chase, and the cub escaped by climbing up a tree.

We saw another black bear on our way home, bringing our bear count to 6 for the evening.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

flying ewoks

Two doors down from the Visitor's Center is an owl's nest with three owlets. For the past month, the Owl Paparazzi (as we have oh-so-cleverly nicknamed them) have been out there faithfully, huge camera lenses pointed up to the tree. I see them when I put away my lunch in the fridge and I give directions to the nest daily, but it had been several weeks since I'd actually seen the owls for myself.

Yesterday when I got off work I noticed a big crowd of people staring up at a tree, Steve included. Three of the owls were perched up there, and one even started flying around, stopping to rest on the roof of the Deputy Superintendent's house for a bit. Of course we didn't have our camera with us, but we ran home and and were able to fire off a couple of shots before the rain rolled in.

Steve called this one the Ewok, for um obvious reasons.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

wrong way, right way

Last week we headed out to the Lamar Valley to hike to a bunch of petrified trees for which Specimen Ridge is named. The road from Mammoth to Tower was packed and we hit jam after jam, the first being because of this guy

Then not 100 yards down the road we hit another jam. This time some visitors were literally standing on their moving cars (not a good idea!!)

to get a look at another small black bear who was chillin' by the side of the road.

Finally, we made it to Lamar where we came upon another wave of traffic, and this time they were stopped for, of all things, a herd of Pronghorn

At last we made it to the trailhead and started our hike into the valley, when we came across four people staring up at the trail with binoculars. Their prompting told us that they had seen a grizzly wandering in the area we were headed. As not to become bear food, we decided to wait a bit. After about 45 minutes from the last sighting of the bear, we decided to go ahead and start the steep climb toward Specimen Ridge.

About two-thirds of the way up the hill we came to a fork in the trail and we decided to go left, basically because it looked flatter and the trail looked like it had been more heavily traveled. Well, we soon found ourselves all alone in a valley with no trail. It was then that we knew we went the wrong way and had to head up over another ridge to get to the top of the mountain.

At the top we were greeted by a Pronghorn coming down the trail
right at us. We moved aside and took in the view of the valley below

and in the process spotted our first petrified tree.

Soon we found a couple more, including this huge petrified log

Still we thought there would be more trees, but since we couldn't find anymore we decided to head down a different path

Soon, as we bumped into a pair of fellow hikers, we figured this trail was the path not taken and it was littered with petrified stumps all along it

After meeting another pair of hikers who knew where they were going, we started to kick ourselves for taking the wrong route, but then, remembering all the traffic we hit on the road in and would soon be hitting on the way out, we decided maybe going the wrong way alone is better than going the right way with everybody else.

Monday, June 14, 2010