Finally, ancient trip report done Day 7

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    Posted by michael in tucson ( on October 03, 2005 at 15:09:04:

    Well here it is the last four days of our spring trip. I hope that people still enjoy reading it. I am also going to try and scan some pics soon showing Hayden over the last four years in the 'Stone.

    6-4-05 Day 7

    We are all up and in the park before 6AM. We stop and watch many of the deer and elk as we move west. There is no evidence at the scene of last night¹s bison calf drama. We can only guess at what might have happened. At Trashcan I see our friend Mike so we stop. It is great to see him and we talk for awhile. Emily is with him but sound asleep in the truck. We are meeting the two of them for breakfast at the Log Cabin and will catch up on the happenings then. We head off to Slough so Karlie can watch some wolves. This has been an emotional week for her. She really misses the Druids and particularly 21. She didn¹t think she was going to have such a strong reaction but I knew better. Getting to watch the Slough¹s is not the same for her, but I believe that time and watching puppies can have some positive

    After we park, Karlie heads up the hill and Hayden and I begin a now very familiar and fun walk to the top. There is always something new to see and even better we get to see some of the same things again as we climb. Once again, he makes it all the way to the top and the elk bones. Karlie is mostly watching the pups. There are three adults in and out of view this morning. The alpha female spends some time close to a cow elk. The elk watches her closely but does not run away. After awhile the alpha female moves on and the elk continues to feed. Hayden and I spend much of the time sitting on big rocks and just looking around. We watch a pair of trumpeter swans come in for a landing on Slough Creek. They trumpet as they land and Hayden is smiling. No one else seems to notice the swans, and Hayden runs over to Karlie to let her know that she missed it all. We decide to leave so that we aren’t late for breakfast at the Log Cabin.

    On the way we stop in Lamar Canyon. There are people set up with scopes at the west end of the parking area. This is where others have told me that they saw a golden eagles’ nest, so we decide to check it out. Well it turns out that the golden eagle is actually a redtail hawk, but wow it is feeding its chicks fresh rodent, probably ground squirrel. Through the scope I get to watch as the adult tears off pieces and feeds them to the young. Glad that we stopped, now I won’t be looking for that golden eagle nest. Near the Institute a coyote begins to cross in front of us, then stops and takes a dump directly on the centerline in the road. When finished he slowly completes the crossing and heads north.

    We meet Emily and Mike at the Log Cabin and have a very nice relaxing breakfast. We try and catch up a bit on what has been happening and after breakfast head over to the cabin to visit some more. Suddenly we hear what sounds like a very loud gunshot. We look up and witness a really large avalanche on Amphitheater Mountain. It looks like slow motion and viewed through binoculars you can get a sense of the power released as the snow pours down the mountain face. Everyone is tired and also full from breakfast, here comes that late morning early afternoon nap. Emily and Mike head off, Karlie and Hayden take a nap in the cabin and I sit down on the porch, reading and dozing in the sun. After just relaxing for awhile I get out the scope and start checking out the Mountains around Silver Gate for animals. I am hoping to spot some goats, but instead find three bighorns, on the mountain just south of the cabin. There is a small ram, a ewe, and what I believe is a one-year-old. I watch them on and off for about an hour as I read and relax.

    After a good nap and dinner, we are all ready to head back out. Eureka! For the first time this year I spot mountain goats on Baronnette Peak and there are lots of them. I can pick them up in the binoculars and then move to the scope. A family stops to ask what we are viewing. We let them share the scope. There are two boys about age 10 or 12 and pretty soon the older boy is spotting with a pair of binoculars and then I get the scope on the goat he has spotted. Everyone is having a great time. Hayden has been introduced to the family’s dog and he is having fun with the dog and telling the boy’s mother all about his dog Teddy at home. One of the goats I spot turns out to be three goats. When I get the scope on her it looks like one goat but there are way too many legs. Twin kids are busy nursing and all that is visible at first is their legs. As I watch the kids finish nursing and start moving around as mom gets down to some serious eating. Everyone has one of those unavoidable, oh how cute sightings. In all we see thirteen different goats including another nanny with a single kid and a really large billy. We spend almost an hour viewing and sharing the scope with others as they stop at the pullout, and then head west again.

    There are many elk cows in the large meadow along Soda Butte Creek and we stop hoping to spot some calves. No calves but lots cows and yearlings to watch. By the time we reach the Footbridge it is pouring rain. Visibility is low so we continue on. At Dorothy’s the rain stops and we pull into Coyote. Some people here have been watching a grizzly on the north side of the road. I am able to get the scope on the bear and watch for a short time before it disappears into the hillside. We are now treated to a double rainbow across the Lamar Valley. The color is very intense at the base of both rainbows.

    On the way into Slough we spot a bison walking oddly. We pull over and watch the bison cross in front of us. It has a badly broken left rear leg, another bison saga in the making. It has now gotten very windy and starts to rain again. We set up the scope and watch three pups at the den site. It starts to rain harder so we pack up and head back. It rains most of the way back to Silver Gate. We do stop and watch a cow moose with a year old calf along Soda Butte Creek about a mile west of Warm Springs. Then on to the cabin and a good night’s sleep.

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