0630 start again today with the temperature as we board the bus reading -10F, which comes out at a tad warmer than -30C. I have never been anywhere as cold as this!Off on the road again hoping to consolidate yesterday’s sightings. Lots of bison of course and our first stop overlooking a spectacular valley as we watched the sun rise.
Third stop was where we saw other vehicles pulled up and we heard that some wolves were feeding off a carcase. Scopes out and a 500 yd trek across the snow to a ridge overlooking a wide landscape. Sure enough, down there about a mile away we spotted a pack of 4 wolves, with 2 of them keeping the ravens away as they gorged on a bison carcase. Once I had spotted this in the scope, I could pick out the scene with my binoculars, but what a distance.
We ended up staying there for an hour or so just watching as wolves went off to rest and then a pair of coyotes sneaked in for their share, only to be chased off again by the wolves. The experts present could actually identify these actual animals and were quite excited because they were from the Lamar pack and were well inside the territory of the Junction pack!
Very cold feet by now, so back to the bus and on to see what else was around.Another stop and there were 3 moose ruminating within a stand of willows with a coyote crossing the snow covered marshland behind. More big horn sheep, elk and the ubiquitous bison. Then we stopped by a fast flowing river and watched some Berrow’s Golden Eye ducks and a dipper in the water amongst the ice.
Packed lunch in the bunkhouse was supposed to be followed by a mile or so’s walk, but we had got less than half way, when we turned a bend and came face to face with a big, probably 2000lb, bison, so beat a hasty retreat and up on to higher ground. He just put his head down and started feeding on a patch of snow free grass, so eventually we had to retrace our steps – in fairness we were walking along a well used bison track!
On the way back, we stopped again at the vantage point overlooking the carcase feed. Different wolves form the pack were now feeding, with coyotes again hanging around. This time a bald eagle was spotted on a nearby outcrop and we then watched as it swooped down for a feed as soon as the wolves moved away. A pair of magnificent elk right by the road just before we returned to Mammoth.
A great final day, completed with a very convivial group dinner.Back to Bozeman in the morning for onward flights. I always knew Yellowstone was a special place, but winter is even more special with the magnificent scenes and the real feeling of being in the wild. Amazing and highly recommended. Wildfoot Travel will be featuring Yellowstone in the winter for 2015/2016.