A "Bully" Day

bignorn itchy.jpg.jpgI won’t be premature again in declaring the official arrival of spring in Yellowstone, but today’s weather definitely displayed characteristics of non-winter. I spent the day basking in the sunshine and viewing wildlife; to quote one of my favorite historical figures, Teddy Roosevelt, I had a “bully” day.

I hiked up to the top of a ridge along the Rescue Creek Trail and had a premium seat for wildlife watching. Herds of bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, and mule deer all lingered in the basin, munching on the newly green grass. At times, hikers coming up the trail startled the animals and from my high perch I watched the ballet of these graceful creatures as they galloped across the basin. Seeing a pronghorn in a full run is simply breathtaking. Near my vantage point, a small uinta ground squirrel peered out of some sagebrush, probably having recently emerged from hibernation.

uinta ground squirrel.jpg.jpgSpeaking of hibernation, a much larger mammal has emerged from its winter slumbers as well—grizzly sightings in the park have been frequent. Although at first I was fearful about hiking alone in grizzly country, I’ve gotten accustomed to thinking of myself in the middle of the food chain. Not that I’m entirely comfortable, but at least I haven’t been forced to give up my cherished solitary wanderings (I realize the behavior is risky, but so is driving a car). We’ll see how I feel once I’ve had my first encounter with a 600 lbs bear. On a positive note, I’ve discovered that hiking in the vicinity of large predators has made me more observant—out of necessity—yet I see more of what nature has to offer with my heightened level of awareness.

So many good wildlife sightings today—here’s a collage.

big horn herd.jpg copy.jpgbig horn ram.jpg.jpgpronghorn and bighorn running.jpg.jpgpronghorn running.jpg.jpgbighorn gathering.jpg.jpg