We’re idling in a line of cars on the road to Norris Hot Springs in Yellowstone. Five cars ahead I see a white van stopped in the middle of the road. A car is stopped in the other lane as well, so we’re not going anywhere until these yahoos remember that they’re not the only ones in the park. Grrrr. I can see folks beginning to line the road and pulling out the big scopes, but don’t have any idea what they’re seeing.
May in Yellowstone. It’s actually my favorite time to visit, but I’m clearly not the only one thinking that.
Suddenly the folks setting up their scopes are running back to their vehicles, and the cars ahead of us take off. As we pass the open meadow where everyone was looking we see a gray wolf lope into the trees. Cool.
Cars pull over at the next available wide spot in the road, but we continue further, to a pullout that overlooks a big meadow on the other side of the forest that the wolf disappeared into. Perfect. We’re the only ones here.
We find a log to sit on, and watch the meadow. If he keeps on trekking, I’m guessing he’ll emerge along the edge of the creek, about a half a mile away. One other woman joins us. She tells us she’s been coming to Yellowstone for years, but never seen a wolf.
We wait. And wait. It begins to look like he decided to take a nap in the trees. Another five minutes, and we decide that we’ll have to make do with that one earlier glimpse. We stand up, and I take one more quick scan of the far side of the meadow. There he is! Patience rewarded. Through my viewfinder I can see that he’s beautifully reflected in the creek:
He seems nervous about something behind him,
But is oblivious to the three of us, sitting quietly on the hillside. The woman who had never seen a wolf if beside herself with excitement, but she stays admirably still and quiet as he heads straight for us.
He’s 150 feet from us, and still doesn’t see us. Getting too close.
I’m just about to suggest that we make a move when he turns and heads into the trees. He probably knew we were there all along.
He’s gone. But I won’t forget that face.