Before we begin I want to reference the Bears of Brooks River 2018 reference guide. Indeed, all these bears are well-documented. So if you see me refer to them by their number, more information can be found in this reference.
This trip sort of started way back in January. January 5th 12:00 AKST to be exact. That is the precise time registration opens for the coveted Katmai Campground. It only holds 60 spots, and it seems that the whole world wants them during the month of July. Attempting to coordinate with a friend (Tim), we were set on grabbing the second week. But that date literally filled up in seconds. Almost suspiciously fast. Alas, we were pushed off our goal of visiting peak season and had to settle for the last week of July into early August. Here’s hoping that the salmon run…runs late.
With a holiday weekend ahead, it’s time to head straight up to Canyon Village from work. When passing Hayden Valley, it was past 8:30 and dark, but one of the largest traffic jams I’ve seen for this time of year. Everyone was focused on the east side, towards the Wapiti rendezvous area. Looks like I have my morning spot picked out.
Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of the summer season and the start of intense crowds in the greater Yellowstone area. But the summer season does not mean summer weather! It’s still variable with cool nights and snow-covered campsites.
It was supposed to be a relatively clear day, but Yellowstone had other plans. Which happens a lot. There was a decent snowstorm earlier in the week, and I think that may pushed some of the wildlife out of Hayden Valley to lower elevations. That’s not to say there wasn’t anything to see, it just took a lot more patience.
Back at Madison for the evening. What a difference in the weather! My car thermometer reported 60 degrees at the campsite. It was nice not bundling up so much this time.
After making camp, I’ll go park at a turnout somewhere along Madison River to eat my sandwich. There was an unidentified K-9 wandering through and bison/elk in the area. Some red dogs starting to show up in this area as well.
Watching the Maple Fire from a distance, I was curious what it looked like from the roadside, since the map showed it so close. Also that bison carcass at LeHardy Rapids was getting some attention. So, I thought to use up my free Saturday on a quick day trip.
Outa work and hauled up to Bridge Bay from Jackson. I heard about the bison carcass in Hayden Valley, so I wanted to get my bearings on that exact location for the following morning. There was a grizzly on the way to the carcass when I showed up, and I got some cool sunset shots of it swimming the river. It was one of those “sitting in a jam, might as well take a picture” moments, and it turned out to be a good capture.
I arrived at Bridge Bay around 9pm Friday. It was already dark from cloud cover, so I went to the ranger presentation instead of heading out for a sunset shoot. Most campsites will have them nightly, and it’s usually an interpretive ranger talking about wolves, bison, park history, etc. Tonight it’s wolves and their history in the park – informative. I also got his opinion on some recent Jackson news I found interesting (and controversial).