January 16, 2015
Day 7 brought us out of the park and into Bozeman, Montana, and from Bozeman, back to South Orange, New Jersey.
And, just one short month later (!), I've managed to post these pictures.
Days 5 and 6
January 14 and 15
Day 5 took us to the metropolis of Cook City, Montana. This is a wonderful town just on the edge of Yellowstone. In winter, the only way in and out of town is through the single plowed road in the park, or by snowmobile. As the main street (and only street) in Cook City, was snow-covered, there were plenty of people on snowmobile. For at least part of the two-day stay in Cook City, there was no cell coverage, no working payphone and no internet. It was amazing at how easy it was to adapt at being completely out of touch!
From Cook City, we had ready access to the northern reaches of Yellowstone, where wolves are most common. We had very good luck spotting the wolves, but primarily from a great distance and through spotting scopes. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to get a usable picture of these animals. They are wary of humans, which is probably a good instinct, as they are hunted outside of the park.
We did see coyote, surprisingly close-up, as well as prong-horn antelope and bighorn sheep.
Days 3 and 4
January 12 and 13, 2015
We spent the morning driving toward Yellowstone, hoping for dramatic pictures of the Grand Tetons. Unfortunately, low-hanging fog made it difficult to see anything but the base of the mountains. We did see some of the bighorn sheep walking the ridges in the Elk Refuge. And, the fog made for some dramatic landscape photography, especially of the snow-covered trees.
We also saw moose in the distance, feeding on what's left of the trees. The deep snow helps demonstrate the beauty of their otherwise awkward looking design. The long, spindly legs move up-and-down in the snow easily. It's a great contrast to the bison, who use their bulk to trudge through the snow.
We entered Yellowstone on snowcoaches. These are fantastic motor vehicles, built in Canada for transporting children to school. They are perfect in Yellowstone, where the roads are groomed (like ski trails) but not plowed, and the only way around the Park is by snowmobile or these unique, tracked vehicles.
We spent the night in the Old Faithful Lodge. As its name would suggest, the world's most famous geyser is a five minute walk out the back door.
Even more dramatic than Old Faithful is the rest of Geyser Basin. The contrast between the boiling pools of clear water and mud immediately next to ice-covered trees gave the whole place the feel of some kind of demonic winter carnival. An amazingly tame coyote was taking advantage of the warmth and some breaks in the snow to relax.
We explored the park on the snowcoaches. In addition to the bison, we managed some get some great shots of coyote in a more natural setting, as well as an apparently curious river otter.
January 11, 2015
The morning began with a ride just outside Jackson where we photographed trumpeter swans and other water fowl.
We followed this with a drive through the National Elk Refuge, where we saw a coyote hunting for his breakfast.
We came across several male elk not far from the National Wildlife Museum.
A brief detour along the Gros Ventre River revealed a winter landscape of frosted cottonwood trees, complete with moose tending to their young and feeding on the not-so-tender tree branches.
In the afternoon, we went into the National Elk Refuge by horse-drawn sleigh.
January 10, 2015
The official photo tour began with dinner this evening. Tomorrow, we head into the National Elk Refuge, hopefully for some great photo opportunities.
Today, prior to the official start of the trip, I went on a dog-sledding expedition, run by Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours. We went on a ten-mile sledding tour. We had comfortable weather (above 20 degrees Fahrenheit) and an unforgettable landscape of frost-covered evergreen trees. At the far end of the trip, we enjoyed the Granite Hot Springs Swimming Pool, a pool created in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp, fed by a natural hot spring. After a hot lunch prepared outside in the snow, we made the 10-mile return trip. Other than a brief and embarrassing episode which involved me becoming separated from the sleigh, it was a fantastic day. However, there were not a lot of picture-taking opportunities, as holding on with both hands was key to an enjoyable afternoon (though not always sufficient to avoid unanticipated contact with the ground).
January 9, 2015
This is the unofficial first day of my travels. I left Newark early this morning and flew to Denver, then to Jackson Hole. From Jackson Hole, I made it to the hotel without event. I managed to get a picture or two from the plane heading into Jackson (see the photo gallery).
The official start of the trip is tomorrow evening. During the day tomorrow I have booked a dog-sledding trip. I'm not quite sure what to expect. But, I'm hoping that there's something interesting to post tomorrow night.
December 30, 2014
So far, I've managed to spend a fortune on outdoor winter clothing, camera equipment and assorted paraphernalia, including a pretty substantial camera backpack. I don't know whether the trip will be a success, but I'll be the best outfitted person on the trip.
As practice, I'm uploading some recent pictures, just so I get the hang of this.