Yellowstone Reports

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Spring Hike

A Little Early Yet
by Dan Hartman

April 16, 2012

Over the last year or so, Iíve written about some of my favorite spots in the Yellowstone Region. Some of the places Iíve frequented for over 30 years. In fact my wife and I honeymooned in the Pebble Creek Campground in June of 1978. During our three week stay that year we explored every meadow and patch of timber from the cliffs to the north and over to Trout Lake. Iíve explored this area every year since and know the landscape like my own backyard.

I have many other places, each with their own diverse habitat that makes them appealing to me. Iím usually looking for small meadows dotted with aspen and rimmed by dense pine forests.

Yesterday I climbed up into one of the spots just east of Pebble. There is still snow remaining in the shadows of the timber so I went in early, knowing it would be frozen after a cold night. I hadnít walked far when I came across an elk skull up in the rocks. Iíd say killed by a mountain lion. In the timber I discovered a bear bed scooped out in a squirrel midden. Here we go again! I had a big black in here last year. A ruffed grouse moved through the trees ahead of me. I have yet to hear one drumming.

Detouring around patches of snow I made my way to where I had a family of boreal owls two years ago. Soon I stood before a large Douglas fir that seemed to be the centerpiece for the boreal chicks that year. Iíve searched this big tree a dozen times for a hidden cavity. And I did so again today. Five times I found the chicks either in this tree or within twenty feet of it. The only cavity is down slope really too far away. This tree had to hold the nest, but where? During my late winter owl study, a boreal called from this location a couple of times. Maybe Iíll get a second chance to find their nest.

I would have liked to climb higher on the slope but the snow was just too deep. Stepping gingerly on the crusted snow, I made my way down to a snow free open slope, then on down to the highway. My car was parked a half mile away.


View slide show

Bear Bed

Elk Skull

Icy Stream

Left By The Boreals

Possible Boreal Nest ?