Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Adventure: June 27: Yellowstone: the grand finale

After taking all those eagle pics, we hoofed it on back to the truck and headed onward toward the exit. Bryan was in a hurry as he needed to be somewhere, so the eagles were to be the last of the photo-stops. He looked over at me and smiled and said something like "well, we saw everything but bears and wolves, that's pretty good." I agreed that was pretty fantastic (other than lacking photographic proof of mooses). It couldn't have been more than ten seconds later, as I stared absentmindedly out the window, saying goodbye to this wonderful place, that I saw a female elk running along the bank on the far side of the river. Wow pretty, I thought. B saw her too and said "did you see that elk?" "Yup."

And then my eyeballs just about fell out of my head and my jaw dropped open and I said something totally unladylike, like "oh sh*t, there's a wolf chasing her!!!!"

A WOLF!!!! Did you catch that!? A wolf!!! Chasing the elk!!! OMG!!!!

Well that was the quickest U-turn on the face of the planet. Time crunch be danged, we were barreling back down the road trying to catch up! We were sure we'd missed them, they must have gone up into the trees along the other side. B pulled off on a side road that went down to the river. We saw no sign of them, but figuring "what the heck" I said let me hop out and I scrambled down a trail to the shore, with my camera of course! I expected they were long gone, so imagine my complete surprise when I saw the elk cow in the middle of the river, heading back toward the riverbank on the other side. I fumbled for a moment, and that was as long as it took her to get out of the water and head up the bank:

Well cool, I thought, she must have lost the wolf and I got some neat pictures of her.

And again my eyeballs about fell out of my head when suddenly from around the bend I saw a wolf in the river, swimming toward shore. I just held the shutter down and shot, grinning like an idiot and thinking "I can't believe I'm seeing this."

Somewhere in the course of all this two more people showed up, they had also been following the elk but thought they'd lost her til they saw B's truck turn around and head down this side road. I can't remember if B had walked up by this point. Was it then that they said something about having seen two wolves?

Second wolf?

OMG! Yes, a second one, running along the far shore. This is the one I had seen chasing her originally, I had no idea there were two!

And just like that they were gone, and I think we were all standing there with looks of absolute shock on our faces. Had we been even seconds earlier or later we would have missed the whole thing. I still can't believe I saw that. What happened to the elk, I don't know. She seemed to have a pretty good head start on those wolves, but in what way nature ended up taking its course, I have no idea. That was the last thing I would have ever expected to see. I didn't even think about wolves because I thought "no way." I'm still just sitting here kinda shaking my head because I can't believe we saw that. Talk about once in a lifetime!

Fate, I tell ya, fate!

I don't think I stopped smiling the entire way back to Teton County. Actually I haven't smiled as much as I did on this trip in a long time. And every now and then one of us would say "I can't believe we saw that!" The ride back was gorgeous, that part of Montana is OMG beautiful, and B said it was the area where "A River Runs Through It" was filmed. Stunning. Unfortunately I did not see Brad Pitt's character wandering around, or I might have done something embarrassing like throw myself at him. ;-)

Wow. Wow. Wow. Still in shock!


Adventure Prone and Co. said...

I like to think those wolves had a nice elk steak dinner that evening for all their effort. But in the end they probably had to settle for rodent or something.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...too bad you couldn't get the elk and wolf in the same frame...Oh well.You tried.
I'm kidding of course. It was amazing to get those shots! Yea for that fast response time EH(on the new camera)Can you imagine on the coolpix??
I missed my guess on the meece (goose, geese ; moose, meece?)

Katherine Plumer said...

Bry- Mmmmm...marmot? :-)

Aaron- oh yeah, on the coolpix it would have been one of those "see that brown blur?" situations (I've got one of those coming up in the post for the 28th!). The D80 is FAST!

Anonymous said...

Well, very cool grand finale! That must have been amazing to see in person. Where did they other people come from - did they see the same thing you did and followed along?

Katherine Plumer said...

Yeah, they said they'd been following her for a while and thought they lost her til they saw Bryan's truck make a hasty U-turn, and they figured maybe we'd seen it too so they followed us.

It really was amazing.