A Summer In Yellowstone Natl Park; My Wildlife Adventures
adventures in Yellowstone
it has always been said of me that i had a way with animals, so it was not surprising that the summer i spent in yellowstone national park should be full of wildlife encounters...rather closer than most people enjoy, and safer. the summer i was there there were 15 bison gorings because tourists insist on belieiving that they are as tame as domestic cows and attempt to pet or feed them. a man got bit by a coyote...he was trying to feed it by hand and it bit him...he went to the ranger and told them if they did not shoot the coyote he would sue the park...so of course they had to go out and shoot "A" coyote...so an innocent animal died due to the foolishness of that man.
now, i know that what i am about to relate will seem like calling the kettle black or however you say it...and maybe it is...but i have always known that i shared something special with the animals...i have only been harmed once by one...a dog, when i was a child...and that not so very bad, he bit on my back...i always found it strange that i never had a fear of dogs due to that attack. in anycase...here below are my adventures in yellowstone.
i was stationed at old faithful inn for the summer, but i had to go to mammoth hot springs for orientation. after one of the classes, as we were leaving, i noticed a small herd of elk grazing on the lawn in front of the building we had been in. i lingered behind, letting everyone else go on. i watched these elk and noticed that one of them was a doe that appeared to be very near to if not in labour. time passed, and i dont know why but the other elk eventually left but she stayed. i wanted so bad to get close to her. so little by little i worked my way closer...she did not seem to mind my presence at all. after awhile she even lay down. when she did that i sat down and continued to inch closer. the whole time i was doing this i tried to...oh, for lack of a better explanation...project...to her that i felt for her, sympathized with her...after awhile she got back to her feet and moved away and started grazing again. (since then i have seen horses going through labour and recognize that she was indeed in labour) i slowly got up and walked towards her again, stopping a few feet away, then stepping towards her once in awhile. eventually she layed down again. this time i was very close to her. i inched closer only a couple of times until if i stretched out my hand i could have touched her shoulder. by the way she was breathing it was a sure sign of labour as well...she would take in a deep breath and hold it...then huff it out and take in another and hold it...i so felt for her, i wished i could hold her and comfort her but i knew i could not. after awhile a woman walked up...she stood a few feet away, just quietly watching us. she might have taken a picture or two i cant remember. soon another woman walked up and the two whispered together. after a bit a third woman walked up. this woman had no sense in her at all. she began talking at the top of her voice and laughing loudly. i could feel the elk tensing up. soon she got to her feet and walked away. i was angry with that third woman. the thrid woman walked off, then the second woman...the first woman said "you know, i could swear you and that elk were talking to each other, the way you were looking at each other." then she smiled and left to....maybe we were, i dont really know...i would like to think we were.
what i really wanted to see while i was there was a bear. but by the time i went to yellowstone they no longer were so very easy to see. my main job was room attendant...but in order to see more of the park i volunteered my free time with the back country office, working with the rangers. they knew i wanted to see a bear. i remember one memorable day...not because i actually saw one...but because of the miles i hiked in order to see one...and i never even got to see one. i never did get to see one that summer...i found some bear hair and caught a glance of what might have been one...but those dont count. that day though, i hiked 6 and 1/2 miles up a tough trail to mallard lake, i had to enter the snowline cause there was still snow on the ground, and in some places it came as high as my knees. the hike was worth it just for the beautiful view, but the reason i hiked up there was to find out if any trees had fallen onto paths or campsites and how many. while i was up there i discovered the outhouse had been knocked over. ( i later learned the local grizzly had a thing for that outhouse and was always pushing it over). so i hiked the 6 and 1/2 miles back. i was just getting things ready for a relaxing hot bath when my supervisor found me and told me they had had a report that a grizzly had been spotted feeding on an elk calf and they were going to go check it out to see if they needed to close the trails near it...did i want to come? i was worn out...but i could not let a chance to see a grizzly slip by, so of course i wanted to go. it was another 6 mile hike to the area where the grizzly had been spotted. some of the terrain was boggy, a new experience for me...each time i took a step the matted covering would sink a bit beneath me...i couldnt help but wonder how deep the water was beneath the covering and hoping the covering mat would hold, and it did, no matter if one or three people walked on it at once. needless to say, we never spotted the grizzly or the remains of the calf. soooo...back we hiked. by the time i got back to my dorm room i was completely exhausted...i hiked a bit over 25 miles of rough terrain...the most i have ever before or since hiked. and i never even got to see a bear. but the landscape was terrific!
one day i walked into the back country office and was told if i would like to check out a report of a black bear with cubs that had been sighted up by some falls. it was a very misty/rainy day...but i was eager to go. the further i went on the trail the eerier it got. the trees were very tall and it was very quiet and dark in there. i began to wonder if i had gotten lost. then i spotted horse prints and knew i was on a well traveled trail. that encouraged me. eventually i came around a curve of the trail and up ahead i could just make out in the trees near the trail something very large and reddish brown. i stopped a moment to try to see better what it was. eventually i figured out it was a bull moose. now, i know as well as anyone that they are very dangerous, unpredictable animals. but i did not feel any threat or danger from this animal. so i continued on the trail towards him. eventually i stopped directly in front of him, about 30 or so feet from him. i brought my camera up and took several pictures. so far i felt peace inside, but now i began to feel a bit anxious, so i figured it was time to move on. so i continued up the trail, occassionally looking back to see if he would follow me or not ( he didnt), however after looking backwards on one particular time i turned around to find myself facing a young elk doe, maybe a two year old. i stopped and stood still, just watching her. she took a step towards me and stopped. then did it again. i thought omg...she is not afraid, she is going to come up to me...i will be able to touch her...she took another step towards me and stopped agin. then...genius that i am, i got the brilliant notion that maybe she wanted to go down the path i just came up...so i stepped off the path and waved her down the trail and told her it was all hers...and she turned around and walked back into the woods (of course, wouldn't you?) i could have kicked myself! she stopped once to look back at me before going on...i can only imagine what she was thinking.
one bright, beautiful morning i woke up early and headed out to meet some rangers on the trail, we were going to "buck trees"...saw the part of a fallen tree that crossed a trail, then rub soil over the freshly sawed ends so they did not look fresh and raw. i never made it to the meeting. as i was heading up the main boardwalk in front of the inn that circled the huge meadow, i noticed a very large gathering of tourists standing up the hill from me and all were staring and pointing at something. one of them came down the walk and i asked them what was going on. he said an elk had had her baby in the meadow sometime in the night or early morning hours. as i got closer to the top i could see her, she was on the far side of the meadow...and a funny thing happened to me. i don't know if i saw a flash of the future ot if i read her body language so well i "saw what was going to happen...either way this is what happened...i saw in my mind her charge across the meadow into the crowd of tourists...and almost before what i was seeing was done, she charged. i was almost to the crowd, and as i saw her reach them and they turned to run, the last one in the crowd was a little girl. i noticed that when the little girl stopped to see if the elk was still chasing her, the elk paused an instant, the girl screamed and turned again to run and the elk resumed the chase, but by then i was there. i stepped in front of her. but i was not running. nor was i threatening her. i simply talked calmly to her. she stopped and just stood there looking at me. someone behind me kept saying "ma'am, i wouldnt do that she is dangerous" and stuff like that, and i found it to be an annoying distraction. finally i turned my head just enough to tell whoever it was that i knew what i was doing. in that glance i saw two things...one, the person speaking worked in the information booth and two, i was being filmed on someones home video. the information booth lady saw, when i turned my head, my parks volunteer hat, and quickly said, "i am sorry, i didnt know who you were"...well i was nobody special, but since it gained me the quiet i needed i was content to leave it at that. the elk doe was obviously a first time mother...she looked young and i dont believe a more experienced one would have chosen such a site to have her calf. plus she was incredibly anxious for her calf...a more experienced mother would have recognized where the real threats were. anyway, she ended up charging over 29 times that day. i could not get people to understand the situation...neither the stress they were putting her through nor the danger to both themselves and me in insisting they get an upclose photo of her or the calf. i would explain how many times she had charged and all and the next thing i knew they would walk as close as they could get and of course she would charge...and that meant i would have to step between them. whenever i stepped between them she always stopped. the worst came late in the afternoon...she had finally laid down to rest beside her calf. and a woman walks up with this huge dog on a leash. i knew instantly what would happen. i walked up to her and asked her if she could please take the dog to another part of the boardwalk before the dog saw the elk and got her upset again...and she begins asking me something, i am sure wanting to know what i am saying...in german! so i point out the peacefully resting elk to her and then i point to her dog and then i point back up the boardwalk. she says something in german and shrugs. i am becoming very tense. just then the dog spots the elk and starts barking his fool head off. the elk jumps to her feet looking for the threat. now i take the woman gently by the shoulders and face her in the direction i need her to go and i point again...she gets the hint and goes off jabbering in german. i stay between her and the elk until she is gone. later i am told i am not a people person and i lose the privilege of being a volunteer...i learn she complained to her husband who complained to my supervisors. before i get canned though...the next morning, i go out to learn she has moved her calf and they expect that by the next morning she will be higher in the hills and away from people...but this day she has started the day by treeing three women. the head ranger had to chase her off by waving his hat at her to rescue the women. now, as we head down the section of trail to see where she is, and we come to her, she recognizes him or his hat or both and begins to charge, but i stop and tell him to walk on the outside of me so that i am walking between hima nd her. she recognizes me and stops her charge. we continue past her and down to the trailhead where i am to spend the day making sure no one goes on that trail. later when i go to eat my lunch, just a peanut butter sandwich i have brought with me, i am joined by a little ground squirrel. i offer him a little bite and he takes it and darts under the boardwalk to eat it...soon he comes back for another morsel, and he makes me laugh because he darts up onto my hand, ignoring my other hand that is holding the small piece for him, and trys to take the rest of my sandwich from me. i call him a little greedy guts and that he must be satisfied with what is offered. he finally sees i am not going to give him my whole sandwich and goes for the little bite i am holding for him. i enjoyed is company.
i also got to see a bald eagle sitting beside the yellowstone river, not to far from several families eating their picnics...if i did not know better i would think he was enjoying the attention. one day i was sitting near a tiny creek that runs by old faithful inn...near where i was sitting was a road that crossed the creek, and so a culvert. the biggest fish in this section of the creek were maybe 4 to 5 inces if that...so imagine my immense surprise to be startled out of a daydream by a great splash...i looked up to see what looked like an osprey lifting out of the creek and flying away. this was only about 20 feet from me.
another time i had just come back from a hike and i sat on this rather long bench to eat an apple i had with me. i just finished the apple and was wondering what to do with the core...throw it down for the animals or in the trash? when along the path and past the far end of the bench comes this bison. he stops to scratch his eye on his end of the bench. he scratches for a very long time. then he begins to amble along the path which cuts away from the bench forming a triangle or an A...the bench being one bar of the A and the path being the other bar of the A...i dont know if he was curious about me or if he smelled the apple...either way he seemed rather undecided whether he should come check me out or not (i admit i was very tempted to hold out the apple core and entice him to come take it)...he would take one step with his near leg and it would stray towards me, while the step he took with his off leg would take him back onto the path, then his next step with his near leg would bring him back towards me...but then his next step with his off leg would swing him back onto the path again...back and forth he would swing with each step. finally he simply stopped and seemed to think about it. as much as i wanted to help him choose in my favor i kept quiet...i do have some smarts, after all. fianlly he made up his mind and walked on up the path. i was both relieved and disappointed.
i had quite a few adventures in yellowstone...and while i know some may seem to odd to be true, i give you my word they are true.
- Treasure In My Own Backyard
This is a short hub about finding fossils in my own backyard.