Yellowstone Trip Journal (fall 2014)

Note: This was originally a three part post on the old website, however, I have combined those posts and below I present the trip in its entirety. 

Pre-Pre-Intro

OK, so I was searching for something on my computer the other day and came across my trip journal from my fall 2013 Yellowstone trip! I had completely forgotten that I had written this, so I’ve decided to place it here on the blog. So, with the idea that it’s better late than never, here’s my trip journal 🙂

Intro 

Welcome to my Yellowstone and Custer State Park trip blog! This is the first week of October 2013 and I’m sitting in my hotel with the power out during a blizzard listening to emergency sirens. So, instead of sitting here watching the town get buried in snow, I thought I’d put together this trip journal  (more on the blizzard in a few posts). Hopefully, my laptop power will hold out…

For the sake of everyone’s sanity, I’m going to spare you the initial days of traveling 1700 miles and call the first day in Yellowstone “Day 1” below. If you feel as though I’m cheating you out of those days of dreary driving, head out to your car and  sit there for 8 hours, imagining corn fields and grasslands rolling by. Do that 3x and you’ll get the idea 🙂

Day 1

I arrived at the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park around 10:00AM this morning. In just two hours time I had managed to spot elk, bison, a grizzly, and a few pronghorn. Yeah, I think this is going to be a productive trip!

I had my standard fare for lunch while out patrolling the park – a PBJ, chips, and some apple sauce. Note to self: One of these days I need to find something else to have for lunch when I’m away from civilization…

After lunch, I decided to hang out by the grizzly I mentioned a few moments ago. He was a tattered, beat up old bruin situated on top of a mule deer carcass. He seemed to have a regular pattern of sleeping, eating, and aimlessly wandering the immediate area around the carcass before starting the entire 45-minute routine over again. By far the sleeping took priority, occupying 95% of his time. I tell ya though, if a griz could smile, this guy would have been – from ear to ear.

I actually had my camera out, but the conditions were about as far from ideal as they could get. He was too far away, he was down in a valley, I had sharpness killing heat waves rising from the ground, and it was – by far – the worst possible time of day for photography. The light was terrible.

Despite all those factors, there were literally a hundred lenses pointed his way at any one time. Many of these people were really camped out too – lawn chairs, coolers, the whole bit.

For my own part, I quickly snapped off a couple shots to prove I saw him and left searching for greener pastures. Between the horrible conditions and the crazy crowd it just wasn’t for me.

With the mid-day light casting dark shadows and hot highlights, I decided to give up on photography for the time being and do a little scouting. I checked out some areas around Mammoth Hot Springs as well as a nice aspen grove that hadn’t quite reached peak color yet. I made a mental note to check back in a few days.

With my photographic possibilities dwindling, I decided maybe it was time to drop down to Gardiner and check into my hotel.

Shortly after getting settled in, it was back to the park for an early dinner at the little “fast food” place they have there. Surprisingly good chicken sandwich, just FYI.

From Mammoth, it was off towards Lamar Valley. Within minutes my windshield was splattered with wet, sloppy snowflakes! Love it! A few minutes later I ran across a group of bison along the road. A good shot of a snow-covered bison has been on my hit list a long time, so this was shaping up to be a great opportunity.

Well, almost…

Despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t seem to pull this off. I wanted a nice clean shot of a single bull, but each time I thought I had a chance, another bison would wander into the frame. They seemed to have a penchant for getting their rear ends in exactly the wrong location.

Some of this could have been mitigated if I would have been able to get out of my car and maneuver around with the camera. However, any thought of jumping out was quickly dismissed when an aggressive 1500 ~ 2000 lb bull decided to get all rowdy directly behind my tailgate with one of his friends. That’s what you call a “No way” with a big heaping side of “Not on your life” situation!

The bison soon moved on and, having a bit of time and light left, I decided to try my luck with the griz again, hoping he had changed locations.

I arrived at a circus of cars and spectators, but the ‘ol griz was still napping on his prized deer carcass; still too far away and still too far downhill. By this time the light was fading so I watched him a bit longer and called it a day.

Although the morning started out with the promise of a memory card packed full of amazing images, I went away hungry this time.

Day 2 –

I woke up well before my alarm went off, filled with a new determination – I was just itchin’ to capture some killer images today! For me, there’s nothing like a bad day of photography to entice me to do a better job the next day.

It was all I could do to wait around in that hotel room for it to get bright enough to start shooting. Since wildlife can be spotted just about anywhere – even before you get into the park – I didn’t want to leave until I had enough light to at least see my quarry. I’d hate to drive by something incredible in the dark. To make the anticipation even worse, it had snowed the night before, leaving a frosting of white on everything. This was a photographer’s DREAM!

Finally, sunrise approached, and my wait was over.

As I drove along, I was obsessed with the thought of how amazing it would be to find something, really anything, in this snow right now.

It turns out I didn’t have to wait too long.

I was only about a mile from the park when I encountered a large herd of elk in an area known as the “Chinese Gardens.” It’s a river peninsula of sorts that, this time of year, is overflowing with lush yellow vegetation – normally plenty of reason to stop and photograph any animal that wanders into it, but with the added snowfall, it was nothing short of amazing. I couldn’t have come up with a better backdrop if I’d worked the idea over in my mind for a month!

It didn’t take long, and I was venturing out with the camera waiting for the sun to brighten things up a bit. There was an incredible bull at the head of this harem, referred to by the locals as “Touchdown” due to his upright-looking antlers. At least I think this was Touchdown. Either way, I wouldn’t want to be the linebacker charged with keeping this guy from the end-zone!

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In any event, I spent the next two hours with this group, easily filling up my 16GB memory card and I was starting to dig into the next before it was all over. I was really happy with the images, and I’m hopeful that these might be my best elk photos to date.

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It looked like it was going to stay overcast so I decided to head to Lamar Valley. First, though, I wanted to check on that old grizzly and see if he was still on his carcass.

When I arrived at the area where he was the previous day, I have to admit I was more than a little surprised he was gone. I think everyone believed he would stay and feast on that carcass over the course of several days. It turns out yesterday was the only time I’d see him. Judging by the amount of traffic in the area, I’d say I wasn’t the only one confounded by his absence. Very odd to be sure.

Still, there was a fresh coat of snow on the ground; the sky was a bright overcast bathing everything in a soft, luxurious light. I made my way to and through Lamar Valley for the first time on this trip, but to no avail. There just weren’t any critters to be had.

My grumbling stomach reminded me it was lunch time, so I made a quick stop at Cooke City and enjoyed a burger at their little bistro. Time to drive back and see if anything had changed in the valley.

A few minutes past the mountains and back into the valley I spotted a pair of pronghorn near the road (sadly, the snow had melted). They were just lounging around, and it seemed like a good opportunity to stop and take a few portraits. I didn’t have anything else going on at that point, and besides, the middle of the day is somewhat slow for animal action anyway.

As is typical, when I’m close to the road with my big lens strapped to my camera and tripod, it causes traffic to stop and investigate. People who would otherwise pass by these two resting pronghorns seemed to think that maybe they deserve a second look. After all, the guy with the big lens seems interested…

As a small crowd closed in, the female became agitated and stood up, with the male quickly following. Then she decided to run – more from his attention than the crowd I think. In an instant, the male was after her and what started out as a portrait session quickly became a massive photo op. They chased each other around in circles and each time they’d get close enough to the camera I’d snap away furiously. They are second only to the cheetah for the title of fastest land animal, and I’m confident these two were reaching 40 MPH + on occasion (they can get up to 55~60 for a short distance).

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Once all the running was over, they sat back down in the same place they were when everything started! Another half hour passed and this repeated itself. And then again.

It only came to an end when another buck caught sight of these little chases and wandered over. I was hopeful for a skirmish between the two, but sadly it didn’t happen. The next time the female took off she went in a straight line and that was the last I saw of those three.

I had just started my trip back to Mammoth when I encountered a black bear. Never one to pass up a good bear opportunity, I stopped and decided to try my luck. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to capitalize this time. I managed a few photos, but nothing I’m very proud of. I really want a good bear photo on this trip, and I’ve already seen a few – just can’t seem to get everything to come together. (Little did I know what would happen in the days to come.)

There was an amusing moment during this encounter, though 🙂

The bear had wandered down a bit from where I was shooting and was making his way along the bottom of a ditch next to the road. I didn’t like where the bear was (he was near a utility box of some sort) so I wasn’t in a spot where I could get a good photo. As he made his way down the length of the ditch, he was invisible from the road or anywhere above it. However, you could hear him milling around – and this noise did not go unnoticed by a group of mule deer at the base of a hill across the road from where he was foraging.

One of the deer became curious about the commotion and slowly moved across the blacktop to investigate what was going on in the ditch.

She carefully, slowly eased her way across the road, stretching her head as far as she could to see what was causing all the racket. As she inched closer and strained her neck to see, the bear must have heard her as well. He decided to stand up to see what the noise was.

With a great snort of surprise the deer almost toppled over trying to run away. Her hooves slipped on the road and she very nearly wiped out getting back up the hill.

Simultaneously, this entire event surprised the bear and he took off running in the opposite direction at full throttle. Funniest thing I’d seen in a long, long time.

Before long the bear was gone and the crowd dispersed. I made my way back towards Mammoth and decided to grab an early dinner.

Since the route to Lamar and back had treated me so well, I decided to give it another go in the evening. However, as it turns out I had met my quota of great wildlife and photography for the day and came up empty this evening. Still, it was far better than the day before, and I had quite a few nice images on the memory cards.

Day 3 –

After yesterday’s success, I couldn’t resist tracing the same route today. So, just before the sun made its way to the horizon, I found myself in my truck and heading towards the park entrance with visions of Lamar Valley (and a filled memory card) dancing in my head.

Mammoth Hot Springs was just a minute away when I spotted my first group of elk. I guess it was the same group as yesterday, but this time they were situated on a large hill. I decided it might get interesting, so I pulled the truck over, slung the camera and tripod over my shoulder, and started out.

Sure enough, before long the bull was striking all kinds of epic poses at the top of that ridge – I was wondering if I missed a tip jar somewhere – the performance was so good! I like to think I have a few good images of that scene recorded on my memory card. It was certainly something to witness; just too bad yesterday’s snow had melted.

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It wasn’t long before a couple of stray cows wandered off in the wrong direction and our hero was out of sight in an attempt to bring them back into the fold. His encouraging bugles echoed off the cliffs and mountains, but when he returned he was empty handed. In his absence another, although significantly smaller, bull had entered the picture.

This more diminutive fellow needed a few years to become any match for the dominant bull. In a matter of moments, he was driven away by the sheer presence of the larger male, much to the chagrin of all the hopeful photographers poised to capture a skirmish.

The party soon disappeared over the far ridge, and I was off again in search of other opportunities.

In just a few short miles I came across a nice mule deer buck I had noticed on my way back the night before. He was with a small group of does and hanging out in a group of trees near the Lava Creek Picnic Area.

I know a lot of photographers would pass this by, but if there’s one thing Yellowstone has taught me over the years is that when there’s a good opportunity – even for an ordinary animal – take it and run.

So, I made my way to the buck, but it was an exercise in frustration. At every turn he managed to keep some sort of debris – in the form of branches, twigs, and brush – between his head and the front element of my lens. It happens, and I usually just wait it out. Eventually, he’ll be in a position where I can get a shot.

In the meantime, my efforts had attracted the interest of another photographer who joined in the hunt. Not a big deal at first, but then the buck decided it was time to lay down and take a break. Shortly, the other photographer and I were nearly opposite each other, and neither one of us had a shot. This buck seemed to have a penchant for finding locations that kept branches between him and any nosy cameras.

I decided to toss in the towel at this point and follow the creek back to where I parked. I soon discovered it was far too marshy to get back that way and was forced to turn around.

And that’s when I heard the busy chattering of a pair of red squirrels. They were in a somewhat heated dispute over a large tree that had fallen across the creek. Since I never let a good opportunity pass, and I happen to really like red squirrels, I decided to try my luck.

In a matter of minutes, the dispute was over and the trespasser was driven off, although he did seem to have a lot of strong opinions about the situation – but only from a safe distance.

The owner of the fallen tree, however, was relatively fearless and allowed me a fairly close approach. I maneuvered around and ended up spending quite a bit of time with the little guy as he slowly gorged himself at different locations along the trunk.

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After I had my fill of squirrel photos, I decided to head back to the buck. Sure enough, he was still settled in. Since I was the only one there now, I decided to hang around and before too long he and his group were up and moving about again.

After quite a bit of feeding he went out towards the road, again attracting some other photographers in the process. He and his little group finally crossed over the pavement and, although they were well on the other side, there’s always the idiot who feels the need to blow their horn.

They went running.

I thought I’d lost them but fortunately, they only went over the next rise. I soon caught up with them and spent a little more time photographing their activities. It’s always nice when an animal – or group of animals – gets used to your presence and allows you to “hang out” for awhile.

After the buck and I had exhausted all the photographic possibilities (sadly, I never did get a shot I liked), I grabbed some lunch. The bright overcast seemed made for photography, so I ventured back out. Unfortunately, the afternoon was relatively unproductive. I did come across the black bear again, but he was next to the Lamar River in a valley under a bridge. I passed this one by since I wasn’t interested in a shot of the top of a bear. Besides, there were there were at least 200 other people getting that shot already.

As I drove on, I couldn’t help but think I’d love a good opportunity with a bear. Something showcasing him (or her) in a favorable environment, with a good background, and close enough for a good image. For three days now I’ve seen bear, but have completely struck out with photos.

It wasn’t until the last hour before sunset that I had a little action. I spotted a nice golden eagle across the Lamar River with a fresh catch. I managed some video but not anything spectacular in the photo department – he was just too far away.

On my way back I did stop for a couple of minutes to watch some pronghorn, but the day was coming to an end and with it the light.
Day 4 –

It’s time for a change.

Although I’m happy with the images I’ve captured thus far, I decided it was time to investigate another area of the park. I made my way south from Mammoth towards the Old Faithful area.

Seemed like a good plan, only I never made it.

About 10 miles into the journey, I spotted a large grayish-brown animal out in a field behind a thicket of trees. I was uncertain what I just saw – could be anything – so it seemed prudent to bring the truck around and make a better identification. As I pull around to investigate, I quickly realized I just spotted a nice male grizzly!

In a matter of moments I’m gathering my equipment, and just then another wildlife photographer excitedly slides his van into the pull off. He asks, “Whatcha got”?

“A griz!”

That’s all it took. We decided to join forces and work the bear together.

He was meandering in our direction, so it was a relatively simple task to intercept and remain parallel to him. We both had 600mm lenses and teleconverters strapped to our cameras, so we were able to maintain a good safety margin.

Well, as safe a margin as you can manage when dealing with a 700-pound grizzly!

For the next hour and a half, we enjoyed unrestricted photography of this magnificent animal. Amazingly, we were also the only photographers on the scene. The tree line dividing the road from the field afforded enough cover to keep the bear – and our activities – concealed from passers-by. Without it, a circus of tourists, cars, buses, and camera phones would have certainly ensued.

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Of course, the bear wasn’t doing anything particularly exciting, just wandering through the meadow foraging. In fact, his face was down 98% of the time. Still, it was an unforgettable experience!

Finally, the bear took a turn and headed away and we made our way back to the cars. As we were chatting, a truck pulled up going the opposite direction. He must have noticed our gear and was kind enough to stop and inform us that there was another bear just down the road.

We decided if one bear was good, two must be even better.

We made our way to the next bear. This fellow was considerably smaller than the first, but a griz is still a griz. I suspected it was probably his first year on his own.

This time, it was a circus. Cameras fired feverishly each time he lifted his head and looked around. Every time he moved, you had to jockey for position with all the other photographers. Still, it was Yellowstone, and this is par for the course sometimes.

This bear didn’t linger for too long, in less than a half an hour he had crossed the road and disappeared into the pine trees.

As photographers are apt to do, we ended up chatting with another photographer. Fortunately, we chatted just long enough for the bear to reemerge from the trees. Or at least that’s what appeared to be happening from our position down the hill on the road.

We quickly made our way back up to see if he had returned and sure enough, there he was. Time for some more photography!

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Again, we kept our distance and ended up shooting for another hour or more. Time certainly does fly when you have a griz in your viewfinder!

This time, he drew an even larger crowd than before. Shutters were ablaze each time he looked around. It was an amazing experience.

Finally, he found his way into a thermal area and away from the road, so we decided to grab some lunch (hiking through thermal areas is dangerous and prohibited, so no way to follow). At lunch, my new friend (Tom) mentioned an interesting landscape location on the Gibbon River and offered to take me to it. I eagerly accepted, and we were off again.

We hadn’t made it more than a few miles when I spotted a coyote hunting in a field. We stopped and I have to tell you, this performance put on by this beautiful ‘yote would put any Broadway act to shame.

You see, he was a pouncer.

Each time he located a ground squirrel or mouse, he would stay back and wait for the perfect moment. When that time finally arrived he would leap into the air and pounce like a cat. With a high degree of success I might add.

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He gave us several opportunities for photos and I’m happy to say I was able to capitalize on them. A coyote leaping has been one of the “trophy” images I always have wanted to capture, so I was pretty excited about this one. In fact, I think I was happier with the coyote than either of the bear I had photographed earlier!

Before long we sensed he’d had enough of us so we made our way back to the cars and he made his way deeper into the fields.

Tom took me to the spot on the river he mentioned earlier, but I never did have a chance to photograph it the way I wanted. It’s always good to have a reason to come back I suppose.

Tom and I parted ways about 4:00 and I worked on finding another image but came up dry. Didn’t bother me one bit, this was, by far, my best day so far and arguably the best of the entire trip.

Day 5 –

Needless to say, after yesterday’s adventure, the decision about where to go was simple.

I hopped into my truck and made my way towards the area where I’d seen the grizzly bears, checking out a couple of bald eagles at Swan Lake along the route.

I carefully checked all the areas where the bears were yesterday, but it was no use, they had moved on.

So, I decided to make my way towards the location of the coyote from the previous day when I came upon several stopped cars on the road. I studied the area, but at first whatever they were seeing alluded me. I drove up a bit, quickly pulled over, and finally saw it – a sow grizzly and her cub!

Jackpot.

I quickly pulled out my gear and began popping off the shutter in her direction. At this point she was right next to the road and it was tricky to keep a safe distance from her, especially with the gathering crowd. Fortunately, most people understood the need to give her a comfortable amount of space and it wasn’t long before a ranger showed up to, very politely, enforce the idea.

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It was a solid half hour of shooting before she made her way into the woods. I decided to return to the truck and move on, but as I sat there with the motor running, it occurred to me where she might be going. So, I turned around and went to where I thought she might emerge.

It turns out it was a good decision 🙂

The sow and her cub eventually did pop back out (the crowd was still there of course). She quickly crossed the road and meandered into a fairly scenic area, creek and all.

There was a grumpy lone bison in the vicinity that seemed to be causing a great deal of concern for the sow. I’m not sure if the bison sensed this or not, but it wasn’t long before he started making his way towards the bear.

This action only served to exacerbate the anxiety in the bear and she started moving in a more urgent fashion. The bison inexplicably followed along; it seemed like he enjoyed harassing them (not a clue why he cared about the bear). Soon the sow burst into a run with the cub at her heels.

She made about 50 yards, slowed down and swung around to make sure the bison wasn’t in pursuit. The bison seemed content for the time being with the amount of torment he had inflicted – but he did continue a semi-purposeful walk in their general direction.

The sow wasn’t taking any chances, and she brought her cub back across the creek (affording an incredible shot or two of the crossing).

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Once she made her way up the bank and back across the pavement, she actually stood up to check on the bison one more time. Most of the shot was blocked so I didn’t get a photo, but it was fantastic to see her popping up higher than the parked cars.

A few moments later she made her way into the trees and was gone for good.

By this time the weather had really started to get nasty and I believe it drove most of the rest of the animals into hiding. I put another 200 miles on that day, with absolutely zero photo ops.

Day 6 –

Short entry today. I attempted to get into the park, but it was closing due to the government shut down.

I went back to my hotel, checked out early and made my way to Custer State Park in South Dakota. I had planned to go there anyway in two days, so it wasn’t the end of the world. I just felt sorry for all the travelers just arriving who were going to be shut out.

I was in time for some evening photography at Custer State Park, but couldn’t secure any photos.
Day 7 –

The photography today started out with my stumbling upon a fantastic group of pronghorn. The patriarch of the group was an exceptionally nice buck who, begrudgingly, accepted my presence after a time.

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I spent nearly an hour watching that pronghorn buck chasing after the girls. He’d feed for a bit, one of his ladies would wander off, he’d approach, she’d run off, he’d pursue, and I would try my best to photograph the ensuing chase.

Much to my delight, each time he’d bring one of the stray girls back into the fold, another would start meandering off in the wrong direction, allowing more opportunities for photos. On the other hand, I felt bad for him in a way. I think it may have been easier to herd cats.

At any rate, they eventually wandered into an area thick with trees, so I made my way back to the truck.

It was already well past sunrise, but this morning featured high, semi-transparent clouds, providing a soft, overcast light that was perfect for photography so I eagerly continued on.

Next, it was a quick episode with a nice looking whitetail buck. Although I saw him several times on this trip, he would be the only buck I came across at Custer. Very odd.

From there I decided to check out the dirt road to Wind Cave NP. I was hoping for coyotes, but I ended up playing with some prairie dogs instead.

I’ve tried prairie dogs in the past, but I’ve never been entirely happy with my results. I’ve never quite got “the” shot if you know what I mean. This time, I think I may have. I discovered a relatively friendly prairie dog who decided to do some posing by a rock located just outside his burrow.

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Once he became accustomed to my truck (if I stepped out, he would have been GONE), he began showing off with a series of curious poses. My shutter went off in a flurry with each new pose. As I left, the sun was starting to show at full strength, so I decided to grab lunch and come back to the park later.

At lunch, I saw a photo of Sylvan Lake from the northern reaches of the park and I have to say I was intrigued. The man-made lake looked amazing, and I decided to check it out.

I have to admit, when I first arrived at the lake I was taken aback – it was amazing! Immense boulders projected out of the water, creating striking little islands.

On the backside of the lake was a sheer wall of rock that, along with a small dam, served to hold back the water and formed the lake.

Although this had just been a scouting mission, I decided to take a chance on sunset and see what happened. I knew the clouds might block the sun and I knew the wind could wreak havoc on any reflections, but the prospect of pulling off an incredible shot was worth it.

As I was waiting, a mink bounced down from the vast field of rocks and boulders behind me. I didn’t have my long lens with me, but it was still a thrill to see him.

As night approached, I was coming to the inescapable conclusion that the sun was going to be hemmed in by a large bank of clouds that refused to go away. As the sun went down (according to my watch, I saw no hint of it), the wind picked up and I knew the day’s photography was over.

As I made my way back down the mountains, a great horned owl burst into the high beams of my headlights and floated along in the dark with me for about 100 yards! It was far too dim for a photo, but it was a great way to end the day.
Day 8 –

It was cloudy this morning, and the animals seem few and far between. I checked out several areas, but the only thing I saw for the first couple hours was that same whitetail buck from yesterday – I still don’t feel like I captured a good photo of him.

A little later in the morning I was lucky enough to come across a really active group of pronghorn. There were several bucks and they were taking turns chasing the females – many times at full throttle!

It was all I could do to keep the camera on them as they got close. I can’t prove it, but I’m sure there were times they whizzed by at 60MPH. It was tricky to photograph them, so I hope I managed some good images.

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This didn’t last too long, though, and soon their racing led them off to other areas. I would have followed, but keeping up with a group of racing pronghorn on foot is an exercise in frustration. Thankfully, I was able to grab some images this morning, can’t wait to see them!

At this point, it seemed like a good time to head out, take a break, and grab some lunch. The small restaurant was empty save for myself and a few employees. I overheard them talking about the impending snow storm. This had been the talk of the town since my arrival, but I was starting to get worried. Initially, I was pretty excited; they were talking about 3-5 inches of snow. How cool would that be?

However, as the days went on, those numbers kept climbing. In fact, when I overheard them talking, I politely interrupted, “I’m sorry, how much snow did you say we’re going to get?”

“They’re talking somewhere between 18-24 inches! Lots of wind too, one forecast was calling for blizzard conditions.”

I finished my lunch and went back to the park. My wife was planning on flying out and joining me tomorrow, and I hope the flight isn’t delayed.

I went back in search of more wildlife, but even the animals seemed to know something was up. I did manage a shot of a bison who was staring me down, but that was about it.

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I made my way to Rapid City where my wife would join me tomorrow.

Day 9 – 12

This is my final entry for the trip. The forecasters were right; this has developed into a full-on blizzard. I’m trapped here in my hotel and the power is out. All the flights are canceled, so it looks like my wife isn’t going to be joining me after all. Heck, I couldn’t get to the airport to pick her up if I wanted to. The power went out a couple of hours ago and as I sit here in the silence, I can hear sirens going off in the distance.

hotel

I was looking out of the window a few minutes ago – it’s a total white out, and the snow is horizontal. You can hear the wind trying to get in through the windows. If the power stays out, it’s going to get cold in here. Thankfully, I have all my heavy duty cold weather gear with me, I’d just need to get it out of the truck (which will be no small task).

It sounds cliche, but my power really is running low on my laptop, so I have to sign off now. I’ll post a wrap-up entry when this is all over.

Epilogue:

OK, I’m back home and I want to finish this journal. Here’s what happened…

Thankfully, the power came back on several hours after that last entry – and luckily the hotel had plenty of food in their little restaurant. The roads were completely blocked for a couple of days. In fact, my truck was parked in a nearby garage and I had to hike over several 6~7 foot drifts to just get to it. My time was spent working on this journal, watching TV, and strolling around the hotel.

buriedcar

My wife’s flight was cancelled and she never did make it out. Just as well, I’m sure it would be a few more days before we could even think about getting back into the park and by that time it would have been time to leave.

Although the government shutdown and the blizzard conspired to try to ruin the trip, overall I still think it was one of my most successful wildlife trips. I’m excited about all the images I captured and I plan to try it again in the future.

Thanks for following along with my journal.

~Steve

PS – And remember, if you’d like to improve your own wildlife photography, be sure to check out my e-book, Secrets To Stunning Wildlife Photography. Hundreds of pages chock full of everything you need to know to take images like you’ve seen from this trip and throughout this site. Click here for more info.

This entry was posted in Photo Trips.

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