Trip Pictures

Barronette Peak

Bison jam

Big bison

Next to the car

Minding their own

business

Bison

Mammoth

Elk

Bighorn sheep

Bighorn sheep

Coyote

Bighorn sheep

Bighorn sheep

Bighorn sheep

Bison in the morning

Digging in the snow

Digging in the snow

Tracy @ Slough Creek

Where the Sloughs were

Darnell-land

Snow

For Chris to figure out

Yellowstone National Park

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Over the long President's Day weekend of 17 Feb 07, Tracy and I decided to head back to

Yellowstone to try our luck at seeing the wolves again.  Since Yellowstone only has one

entrance open in the winter, it's a long seven hour drive from Salt Lake up to Gardiner, MT.

We spent Friday night in West Yellowstone, and then drove through the park a couple of times

on Saturday.  We got some good pictures of Bighorn Sheep, Bison, and a coyote.  We didn't

see any wolves, but I did here one howling from the Lamar River trailhead around dusk on

Saturday.  That was the first wolf howl I had ever heard, and it was awesome.  We got a

backcountry permit on Saturday to hike the Slough Creek trail on Sunday and camp Sunday

night.  We stayed in Cooke City on Saturday night, and Tracy finally declared that the city

scared her because all of the snowmobilers overloaded the testosterone levels.  But we got up

Sunday morning and started snowshoeing on Slough Creek.  On our way in, about 11 am, we

heard a distant wolf chorus from the west.  They were probably a couple of miles away, and

we could barely hear them, but it was incredible.  I assumed it was the Agate pack.  But when

they stopped, I started to say something about how far away they were, when suddenly

another chorus erupted on the ridge right next to us.  I assume it was the Slough Creek pack

responding to the Agates, but they were close and loud, and that was truly amazing.  They

howled for a good minute, and we just stood there spellbound.  We tried to see them, but we

weren't able to find them.  After they stopped, we continued hiking to the Slough Creek

campground, where we had the campground to ourselves.  We found a site that had a large

evergreen above it, so there was no snow immediately under the tree.  That was nice.  We set

up camp, changed clothes out of our wet clothes, tried snowshoeing around a little, gave up,

and came back to camp.  We read for a while, napped for a while, ate dinner, then gave up

and decided we were bored and cold and wanted to leave!  We suck at winter backpacking!

This is 0 for 2.  We pretty much just decided that we don't like snow camping.  It's too hard, it's

too boring, and it's too cold.  We're just going to stick to day hiking and desert hiking in the

winter.  So as we were packing up about dusk, a lone wolf started howling on the ridge just

behind the campground.  We sat there and listened to him for about 30 minutes, and he was

still howling when we left.  We started snowshoeing back to the car at dusk.  Soon after leaving

we heard a faint wolf chorus on the opposite side of the Little America valley.  I couldn't decide

if it was the Agates that had moved further east, or if the Druids had worked their way over.  I

thought the Sloughs might have also crossed the road while we were in camp.  But then a few

minutes later the Sloughs started up again from the same ridge where they had been seven

hours earlier.  It was getting dark by then, so it was cool to listen to them howl in the dark.  It

got good and dark on us about halfway back, and we came up on a couple of herds of bison

along the way.  But we made it back uneventfully, but it was snowing pretty good by the time

we got back, so we headed back to Gardiner for the night.  On Monday we took a leisurely

route through Montana to get back home.  This trip did make us conclude that we don't like

snow camping, and we've probably exhausted our winter enjoyment of Yellowstone, but it was

awesome to have had so many experiences with the wolf howls.  I certainly agree that hearing

wolves howl in chorus and as solos in the backcountry is one of the quintessential wilderness

experiences.