Thursday, May 31, 2012

Final Day in Yellowstone: New Friendships and a Tearful Farewell


The Wolf Conservation Center's Spring Yellowstone Adventure is coming to a close. WCC's Alex Spitzer sent us his final report and it sounds like the great crew will be bringing back some great memories, photos, and new friendships.

Final Day in Yellowstone
Today was our last day in the park and boy was it exciting. Not only was it another three dog day (wolf, coyote, and fox), but we also saw both types of bear (black and grizzly) that are found in the park. One other interesting addition today was that we were joined by Scott Frazier of the Crow and Santee Tribes. He is also the founder of Project Indigenous, a group whose goal is to incorporate indigenous knowledge into solving many of the climate concerns we are currently faced with. Scott joined us today to tell us about some of work that he has done in Yellowstone as well as some history about the indigenous peoples of the greater Yellowstone region.

Our day started off with the sighting of a big beautiful bald eagle perching on a tree next to the road. There were tons of bison on the road in the morning but otherwise, nothing too different than the previous days. By the time we arrived in the Lamar Valley, however, things had changed. We pulled off near where we saw two members of the Lamar Canyon pack the previous day and were ecstatic to see that eight members of that same pack were harassing a female elk. After a standoff that lasted only a couple of minutes, the wolves decided that the elk was too healthy to take on and let the elk run off. This was probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

View from Apache Ridge

After witnessing the standoff we heading down the road to a place we call Apache Ridge. It is named that because on our trip two years ago, we spread some of the ashes of Apache, one of our original ambassador wolves. This time we came with a different mission, to add the ashes of our other two original ambassadors, Lukas and Kaila. Although we wanted to put their ashes with Apache, we found that the ridge was blocked off since the Lamar Canyon Pack was using it to cross the road. We decided that across the street along the Soda Butte Creek would be a perfect place. We were greatly honored to have Scott along with us who performed a brief ceremony as we spread the ashes. Scott chanted the Meadow Larks Song, a chant that he learned from his brother and performed in 1995 as the first group of wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National park. By the end of the ceremony, we were all almost in tears.
After finishing the ceremony and taking a few minutes of silence, we headed back down the road to Tower Falls to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. As we stared in awe of the landscape before us, we noticed a mother mountain sheep and her two calves walking alongside the cliff face. As we got ready to head down the road to the falls, we noticed a large group of people forming so walked down to find black bear grazing in an open field. Our final stop was the falls, another spectacular sight. We even saw an osprey nest which had an osprey sitting in it.

Tomorrow we will be heading back to Bozeman for the night before returning home. We are all sad to be leaving but we are looking forward to coming back next year. Big thanks to Nathan Varley, Linda Thurston, and everyone else that helped make this trip amazing!

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