Friday, June 17, 2011

lions and bears

Two weeks ago I hiked up Mount Everts with two coworkers. Mount Everts is the mountain that we see out our apartment window.

There's no trail--we just hiked up the mountain through the sage and then followed along the edge. It wasn't long before we had great views of Mammoth and the Northern Range.

About a mile in we startled a grouse out of the sage. If you've never come across one before, it's hard to imagine how something so small can make so much sounds like a bear waking up in the grass, and it's hysterical to watch everyone jump straight up in the air, and then realize it was just a grouse.

About 2 miles into our hike we started talking about mountain lions. The official estimate is that we have 14-23 lions in the park, mostly up here in the Northern Range. Lions have been spotted up on Everts before, but they're one of the rarest animal sightings in the park. My hiking partner has lived in Yellowstone for 16 years and has never seen one.

About 10 minutes later we're hiking across open sage, and Terry makes a noise and points his hiking pole. I assume it's a bear and look where he's pointing: about 60 yards away, on the other side of a ravine, I see an animal move behind a tree. Terry finally manages to say "Mountain Lion!" and we watch it, watching us, from behind the tree. And then it took off running along the ridge, and we had a GREAT view of it (in profile) as it ran through a clearing. It was a beautiful, tawny gold color and I swear that its body left the clearing about 5 minutes before its tail did. The tail went on FOREVER. The whole encounter lasted about 20 seconds, but the color of the lion, they way it moved, and its tail, are frozen in my mind.

After a while, we finally managed to gather ourselves and continue on. Great views, but it's hard to top seeing a lion!

The fort, the Terraces, and Sepulcher Mountain.

Looking down on the Mammoth suspension bridge.

Great view of the fort--our apartment building has the green roof on the left.

Incredible views of Osprey Falls from the top of Everts.

Views from the edge.

Electric Peak, with an elk in the foreground.

Mountain lions have always been my animal fear; they're Steve's favorite animal and he's always wanted to see one. He had to work this afternoon, and I felt bad calling to tell him that we saw a lion. While he was at work.

Luckily he'd had a pretty cool encounter that afternoon too. He decided to fish the Firehole River before work, and this cinnamon black bear came out of the woods, swam across the river 30 yards from him, shook itself off, and then wandered into the trees on the other side.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

a few pics from the week


Great Horned Owl:

Elk Calves:

Friday, June 10, 2011