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Junior Curator Yellowstone Trip – June 24, 2012

June 24, 2012

Over the course of the day we began to fully experience the magnificent wonder that is Yellowstone National Park. Our day began at the glorious hour of 05:00 where we awoke to find none other than 25 adult and 4 juvenile elk outside out lodging. Accompanying the elk was one lone bison who must have wandered into town to graze. After observing these creatures for some time we eventually packed into the vans and departed for the world famous Lamar Valley.

While we had encountered a few bison which had broken off from the group, we were greeted by an entire herd of them at the entrance to Lamar. After a bit more driving we observed a black bear which had wandered rather close to the road. She seemed rather unphased by our presence though we did not exit our vehicle in respect to the rules enforced throughout the park.

Eventually we arrived at a stopping point where we dined on our “field breakfast” and observed 2 of the grey wolves with Rick McIntyre, who we later learned has logged over 5,000 consecutive days of wolf tracking. Upon the wolves exit, we too exited and pressed onward through the Lamar Valley and into the mountains surrounding the park.

After crossing back into Montana we were greeted by an old friend of the program, Dan Hartman, a wildlife photographer and film maker who has assisted with films such as Planet Earth. He led us on a fantastic hike which began with a black bear sighting and ended with our observing the black bear beds. Along the way however we were told quite a few amazing stories about the ventures of a family of great grey owls, in which the young owls survived the death of both parents by being self sufficient and helping each other to thrive.

Upon climbing a rock on the hike, soon to be third year Junior Curator Sam Jolly said in a very content voice “This is what I imagined Yellowstone to be.”

At the conclusion of the hike we ventured on toward an open plain and proceeded to partake in a home made lunch, broke out into a snowball fight, and ended the whole ordeal by sledding on leftover plastic bags from our lunch.

After packing up our supplies we traveled up the road to a very tall peak in order to search for pika. Fortunately our efforts paid off and we were visited by no less than 3 of the furry mouse-like creatures. We reached a maximum elevation of 10,480 feet and then made an executive decision to head back into town and visit Dan’s art gallery.

Hiking in the Beartooths

As a method of repaying Dan for his taking us on the hike earlier we each took turns splitting logs which were stacked out in front of his cabin. Some were better than others, and it is something that we all will remember as some entertaining down-time on the trip. We met Dan’s daughter at a local restaurant where we eventually ate a hearty dinner, and investigated the adjoining gift shop.

After dinner we began our trip back to the lodging at Mammoth, but not without stopping to see the cutthroat trout and participate in group meetings. The hike around the pond was quite peaceful and rewarded us with the sighting of our first herp of the trip, a garter snake.

Overall the trip has gotten off to a great start and as it continues it will without a doubt become one of the most memorable for us all.

By Patrick, Melissa, Charlie, Anna, and Sam J.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Marianna McKimmon permalink
    June 25, 2012 10:11 am

    I am so happy you are enjoying this tremedous adventure together!

    Marianna

  2. lizbaird permalink
    June 25, 2012 3:11 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful trip so far! What’s the weather like (it is sweltering in Raleigh but a cold front comes through tonight). How are folks doing without access to internet etc? And finally, can Lynn please bring back 3 pairs of good Museum binocs if they are out there? We need them for another upcoming trip. Hope today was a rich as yesterday!

  3. Karen Polk permalink
    June 25, 2012 8:37 pm

    Thanks for helping us see Yellowstone through your eyes! Hope every day is just as wonderful.

  4. Ellen McClay permalink
    June 27, 2012 6:39 pm

    We are experiencing Yellowstone vicariously through you! Thank you for the adventure updates. Hope you have a wonder-filled week!

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