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Yellowstone Autumn

I decided to spend a few days in Yellowstone.  I like to bask in Boiling River but I especially wanted to hear the elk bugling.  The bulls are in rut and if you’ve never heard an elk bugle, you’re missing out.  Its the eeriest sound, the most beautiful sound, a sound that seems other worldly.

The Park, usually nice and quiet this time of year with all the crowds gone, was jammed pack. They’re having the busiest fall in 10 years.   I couldn’t get a campground anywhere, so I had to drive outside of Mammoth 20 miles down the road to a National Forest campground.  That was a real surprise.  And even that campground was just about full.  I think I found the very last site!

Waking up early, I soaked in the river, then headed up the trail to the Beaver ponds.  Its a fairly short loop of 5 miles.  Since I was early on the trail, I didn’t see anyone for the first hour.  The trail winds along the open hillside overlooking Gardiner, but soon dips into a conifer glade with seeps.  The day was already hot (as we’re having our summer now in fall), and as I moved into the cool shade I noticed about 20 elk, mostly cows and calves, lying around.  One bull was there.  This was his harem.  The cows were relaxed.  The calves were curious.  And the bull was keyed up.Elk mating

I lay down on the trail and watched for ten minutes.  As I continued on, I later heard that some hikers had come around the corner and gotten chased a bit by that bull.Bull Elk

Although there were no beavers to be seen when I arrived at the ponds, their evidence was.Beaver evidence

On the last leg of the trail, I noticed an old structure that looked like it had been a cabin.  I couldn’t find references to it in the guidebooks.  Wondering if anyone knows what it used to be?

Old Structure along Beaver Pond trail

Old Structure along Beaver Pond trail

After a late lunch, I headed back towards the Lamar.  A coyote was catching grasshoppers.  He was terribly cute pouncing around.

Coyote catching grasshoppers

Coyote catching grasshoppers

And the light was perfect for this herd of Bison.

The light was perfect

The light was perfect

I stopped for a while and watched a second coyote, before heading up to Trout Lake.  I wondered if the otters were active.  Trout Lake is a very short hike/walk.  Otters are often seen playing there.  I didn’t see any otters today, but the lake was beautiful.  I spent time snapping some photos of the Lake, of a gigantic ladybug, and a dragonfly.

Trout Lake

Trout Lake



Trout Lake signage

In order to get into the Park, you must rise in elevation.  That’s because of the bulge from the hot spot that Yellowstone sits upon.  I used to wonder why that special feeling seemed to almost begin and end at those entrances and exits, until it was explained to me.

I met a woman from California on the trail.  She comes to Yellowstone every fall for 3 weeks.  At the campground I met some people from Seattle who come every year at this time.  I met a man several years ago who comes every spring from Iowa.  Yellowstone is just like that.  It is a very powerful place.  A healing place.  Once it gets under your skin, you can’t help but dream the dream of returning again and again.

One Response

  1. Leslie, thank you for these beautiful words and images. I have been scrambling so much of late with presentations and prep work for our first Youth Wilderness Leadership Program and felt I needed to visit your blog to gain a little peace and your beautiful words certainly helped to provide that. So thank you! This is such a tremendous resource for the Yellowstone community.


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