On the hike, we encountered not a single other human being. We saw a large wolf at a distance of about 75 yards (I don't have a photo because I don't have a telephoto, but will add one of Roger's when I get it), several Great Blue Herons, Idaho's state bird--The Mountain Bluebird, too many bison to count, a grizzly bear, eagles, osprey, and much more.
A lone bison walks along a ridge in the remote Hayden Valley of Yellowstone. We saw four or five hundred bison, and on four or five occasions had to make rather inconvenient detours around them, as they use the same trails.Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Tribe used this same trail to attempt their daring escape from the United States back in the 1870's. About eight miles into the hike, we came upon this old sign denoting an incident on that long march. Only forty miles from Canada, Joseph and his tribe were captured by the US Army. Joseph then said "As the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever".For much of the year, Yellowstone is a harsh place for its animals. We saw dozens of skeletons and bones on the hike. This bone is next to the shoreline of Mary's Lake, about halfway along the 20-mile trail. Much of the water along this trail is not potable, due to the thermal features. We brought our carbon filters and filtered water from the lake.
The day started out cool, then got warm and sunny. By mid-afternoon, we got the usual afternoon thunderstorm, with fantastic lightning and plenty of rain. This picture was taken looking up through lodgepole pine on the way up Mary's Mountain.
Evidence of bear activity is frequent. This is a prime grizzly bear habitat and we noted many signs of recent grizzly use. The photo above shows a grizzly scratching post, the side of a lodgepole pine, with claw marks visible. Roger's hand is to left for size.
Another sign of a recent grizzly on the trail--a huge pawprint indented in the dried mud at our feet. This is my fairly large hand at left to show the incredible size of these magnificent animals.Hey, there's one now! We saw this at the bottom of the trail near the very end of the day. It is a young Grizzly, maybe several years old, walking across a sage meadow looking for grubs. I do not have a telephoto, so this is the rough distance from us, though it has been cropped.An afternoon thunderstorm growls across the Hayden Valley. Several spouts of rain can be seen cascading to the earth in center and right. If you look just left and below center of photo, you can see part of a herd of roughly 150 bison that we watched as we passed.
This rather stringy-looking hiker used to throw the discus, and to this day, he cannot pass by a buffalo chip without picking it up and flinging it into the stratosphere, a behavior his hiking companions invariably find somewhat disturbing.