Friday, September 14, 2007

Landscapes of Yellowstone: Lamar Valley

I woke up this morning from a very vivid dream, of me running among brushes on an old Indian trail on a ridge, surrounded by three friendly gray wolves, but in the valley below there were crazy bisons that would attack at any minute if they saw me. Earlier in the dream I had found the remnants of some people that had been attacked by something - all that was left was a few dry bones and clothing, and some pennies and folded bills that had been in the pockets. Ravens were sitting in the trees and on the ground, ready to pick on the bones. I guess these kinds of dreams are what you get after going to Yellowstone!

One of the most beautiful places in Yellowstone is Lamar Valley, a place that is not on the regular tourist loop, so fewer people see it. It is a large valley, U-shaped by the ice age glaciers, and you can see far, far over to the other side. Bison and antelope is common here and we also saw bald eagles and a grizzly bear (at a safe distance, at least a mile away).

Usually the bison are really busy with their own life, you just have to watch out if you get too close. The bulls are enormous, and considering how they bang their heads together while fighting, no wonder they need to be so heavy in the front. They also like to have little dirt spots on the ground where they roll around in the mud or dust, like horses do.

Lamar Valley and its branch northwards along Soda Butte Creek. This part of Yellowstone didn't burn in the giant forest fires of 1988 so the forest is thicker and older.
One of us photographing drinking bisons by hiding in the sage brush. Note how the bisons don't care about cars, they just walk right across the road and expect all cars to stop for them. Sometimes they stand still on the road for a long time and stop all traffic.

Before sunset we climbed a 600 ft high hill on the side of the valley to see wolves on the other side of the valley. It was a hard climb - steep, at high altitude, and we were so tired when we got to the top. But it was certainly worth it! They were there, a pack of 22 wolves, black and grey ones, at least a mile away across the valley on a terrace invisible from the road below. We saw them howling in our spotting scopes, and my binoculars were great! (That is a birthday present that really has been fantastic! Thanks!) They were sleeping, running around, some of the 8-month pups were playful - it was wonderful to see. Then the sun set, stormy clouds came in, and we walked down the hill after an amazing evening.


O.K. said...

Great landscape! But who's hiding in the bushes? :)

LS said...

The man with the 600 mm tele objective on the camera is in the bushes (a colleague, no names here). Getting close-ups of bison eye lashes I believe.