2019 Spring trip to Yellowstone

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The trade off for that amount of focal length was well worth it! Totally gorgeous subject matter and story to bring them completely to life!
 

Nikki J

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Thank you again for sharing
 

blitzc

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I'm not any kind of photographer, but I love the pictures!! The background being subtle and hazy allows you to focus on the bear. And when you think of the emotions of this bear's situation, the grass is not important to understanding the moment.
 

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Thank you to everyone for your kind feedback. In this post, I will share a scattering of pictures taken throughout the trip.

The first and second pictures of my wife and me on the Old Bunsen Road, a double track trail that is suitable for my four wheel drive wheelchair. We enjoyed the hike, but part way in we met a group of young (to me:)) folks who work in the park. They said they had passed a carcass near the trail and had seen a grizzly bear that was exhibiting huffing behavior. That is very aggressive behavior for a grizzly and nothing to mess with.

The second picture is of Daisy geyser erupting. This is one of my 5 most favorite geysers in the park. It has remarkable behavior and is frequent enough (typically about once every two hours) that it is pretty easy to be in a position to watch it erupt. I tried to time this shot for later in the day when there might be the potential for a rainbow. You can see a faint rainbow in the shot.

I was not sure the report was completely reliable, so we continued on, keeping a keen watch, making lots of noise, and keeping our bear spray handy. Sure enough, we reached a bend in the trail and there was a fresh elk carcass less than 100 feet off the trail. We cautiously retreated and cleared the area without any bear encounter. We did see a beautiful coyote slinking toward the carcass, which would be unlikely if there was a bear in the area. When we got back to civilization we reported the carcass to the rangers so they could deal with it, probably by either closing the trail or moving the carcass. I am guessing they moved the carcass, because when we returned a week later there was no sign of the carcass.

The fourth picture is of the lower falls of the Yellowstone river. This is the largest volume waterfall in the Rocky Mountains.

The fifth picture is of Fountain geyser, which is another favorite geyser of mine. When the conditions are just right, the reflection of the sunset in the concentric rings of water is simply amazing. This picture does not even come close to showing the beauty we experienced there. It was absolutely fantastic.

I hope you enjoy this diverse set of pictures.

Steve
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KateEmerson

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Love your pictures and narratives Steve. The one of Fountain geyser is stunning! Kate
 

swalker

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Toward the end of our trip we were driving from the Norris Geyser Basin back to the campground at Madison Junction. As we were approaching Elk Meadow, my little sister said that she saw some movement on the west side of the road. She then exclaimed that it was a grizzly bear. In fact, she clearly saw two grizzly bears as we approached Elk meadow.

Elk meadow has a wonderful pullout where it is easy for me to park the wheelchair van. Since no one else had seen the bears, there was no traffic jam and the parking lot was essentially empty. I pulled in and we immediately set up my camera equipment.

It was early evening and I was eagerly waiting for the bears to get into a position so that I could take their picture. From a distance, it appeared to be a mother and an older cub. It actually turned out to be a boar and a young female. This was grizzly bear courting time in Yellowstone, so that was not totally unexpected. What was unexpected was how young the female appeared to be.

As we watched them enter the meadow, there was obvious tension between the two bears. For most of the encounter, the boar had his mouth open, which is a sign of irritation and aggression in grizzly bears.

The lighting was wonderful and the bear behavior was pretty unique. I had never seen this before. I took quite a few pictures. The boar then chased the female away and she started ambling directly toward us. We had to retreat to the car. She was way too close for pictures and wound up being about 20 feet away from our car. We, of course were in the van at that time.

It was a really magical experience and one of my top grizzly bear encounters ever! By the time the bears wandered off (in opposite directions), the parking lot was completely full and there was a full-on traffic jam. The bears entertained us until it was too dark to take pictures. We then headed back to the campground.

Here are a few pictures of the encounter.

Entering the meadow.
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What? You want me to leave?
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Did you get the message? I want you to leave?
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I really mean it! Leave!
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Are you leaving? Looks like you might be.
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Good, you are leaving. Think I will keep an eye on you as you leave.
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Looks like you got the message and are leaving. I am out of here, going the other direction!
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You really mean it? You really want me to leave? What did I do wrong?
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I hope you enjoy the pictures. It was an amazing evening!

Steve
 

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Another fantastic set of photos - so candid and natural showing great postures!
 

blitzc

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Awesome! Can you explain the meaning of "boar"?
 

KateEmerson

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Amazing pictures again Steve ! I've been to Yellowstone 3 or 4 times and have never had the pleasure ( or fright) of seeing a grizzly.
 

swalker

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Cathy, a boar is a male bear. A female is called a sow. It is sort of like the names used for pigs, except young bears are called cubs while young pigs are called piglets. Isn't english an amazingly confusing language:)?

To all, thank you for your feedback. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to go to Yellowstone once again in the spring and was blessed with such amazing wildlife encounters. I am especially glad that I am able to share my trip with you.

To those considering a trip to Yellowstone, I only have one thing to say...GO. It is an amazing place if you are interested in the kinds of things it offers, which is primarily an abundance of geysers (more than the rest of the world put together) and other thermal features, an abundance of wildlife, and magnificent scenery.

I believe I should caution folks that you are unlikely to see as much wildlife as we did on this spring's trip. We were there for an entire month. Because of the frightful weather (snow, sleet, hail, rain, lightening, etc.) we spent a lot of time in the wheelchair van driving around the park. Even with all that, we only had 4 viewings of grizzly bears that were close enough to the road that binoculars or spotting scope (a terrestrial telescope) were optional. Most of the grizzlies we saw were at least a mile away and some were over two miles away.

On top of that, I have spent more than 600 nights in Yellowstone over the last 20 years (which is a true blessing!). During that time, I have learned were various wildlife hang out. I have gotten to know the behavior of individual bears, many of whom have nicknames among the serious bear watchers (Snow, Raspberry, Scarface, Blaze, Hobo, Obsidian, Quadmom, Beryl, etc.). I know where and when they might be more likely to be in a particular part of the park. Even with that knowledge, I strike out the vast majority of the time when looking for them.

I don't think I saw my first grizzly until about my 7th or 8th trip to the park. Now, it is a very rare week in the park when I don't spot at least one grizzly, though often that is at a range that requires a spotting scope for a meaning view.

While most of Yellowstone is not ADA compliant, with a bit of determination and a capable wheelchair, I find that it is amazingly accessible.

One other thought is that I am not the only person to have discovered the beauties of Yellowstone. Many, many people visit Yellowstone each year. A lot of the visitors are from other countries and the customs and culture in some of those countries are very different from ours. If you go, expect to see a lot of other folks and for some of those other folks to seem rude. Some actually are rude, but I am convinced many of the seemingly rude folks are just behaving in a way that conforms to the norms of their home country's culture.

We are well only our way to wrapping up preparations for our fall trip to Yellowstone. I can hardly wait to return there! This time we will be taking our first trip with our new-to-us monstrosity of a motorhome which is needed to better meet my needs. Here is a picture of it with my friend Greg working on the roof

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Steve
 
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