The next morning we saw a wolf. We had packed up and headed to Tower early to claim a spot in the camp ground. On the way up there was a bit of a traffic jam. Oh great, some bozo in a giant RV thinks that’s the last bison on earth. That’s what these things usually are. But this one was different. Loping casually down the road ahead of us was a black grey wolf. That is, a grey wolf that has black fur; a very rare sight. The ranger last night pretty much guaranteed that we wouldn’t be likely to ever see one. And this was just the start of our day!
We got to the Tower campground just before it started to fill up. Got a nice snack and headed out for a day of adventure. On the agenda today was a hike up to the standing trees on Specimen Ridge. We were heading down the road towards the trailhead when traffic stopped again. (No wonder Karen didn’t get to Fishing Bridge until 8.) Oh great, some doodah in a giant thinks that’s the last bison on earth. Wrong again! This time, in the ditch on the side of the road, nibbling peacefully, seemingly without a care in the world, stood a little black bear. That is, a black bear that isn’t very large. Well, two animals I’ve always wanted to see in person when I wasn’t even looking for them. How could this day get any better?
There was a ranger keeping traffic moving past the bear, so we got on the road before too long and made for the trailhead. On the way there were some cars parked on the aide of the road and people were looking off in the distance. Oh great, some doofus in a pickup thinks that’s the last bison in the world. Well, this one was bison, but it was worth stopping for. Off in the distance was a huge herd of bison. We got out and snapped a couple pictures not realizing that in an hour or two we’d have a bird’s eye view of the entire herd plus some others.
Finally we set out to hike straight up the steepest trail in Yellowstone. On the way up Zack kept reaching down and picking up rocks. Here’s an opal, there’s a fossilized imprint of a leaf. This one is really valuable. That one’s worthless but still really cool. He was an amazing source of information about just about any rock you could show him.