Mammoth Campground, Yellowstone National Park. December, 2013.
Once again we’re all alone for two cold nights in Mammoth Campground. Yellowstone in winter – especially before the Mammoth Hotel is open – can be harsh and cold, but there’s a stark beauty that’s worth a bit of discomfort.
The critters seem oblivious to the few people who are around: they’re on a mission to get food and stay warm.
Bighorn Sheep paw through the snow, looking for a remnant of last summer’s grass,
and a coyote strides down the road…on a mission to find some lunch.
His cousin, however, is momentarily stalled by a bison who is a bit close to his chosen route.
The bears are asleep – we hope – but there is always the chance of running across a mountain lion, or a wolf, or a bobcat. Not on this trip, though. The possibility will have to suffice.
At the campground I watch a falcon harass a group of cedar waxwings who amuse me with their group panic and frantic flights from tree to tree. The falcon doesn’t seem to tire of his game, even though his chance of actually catching one of the waxwings in flight can’t be too high.
At the end of the day we head to the Boiling River, hoping that we’ll be able to have a soak in the hot pools without a lot of company. To our surprise, we see more people soaking than we’ve seen all day in the park. Oh well. It’s still a gorgeous spot.
As the moon rises on our last night, we hear a lone wolf howling from behind the hills across from our camp. We never saw him, and no one answered, but it was enough to know that he was there.