Saturday, June 6, 2015


Fox kits pop out of den.  It wasn't until I got home and looked at the photo on a bigger
 screen that I saw the second kit.

This seems to be a good year for fox. I've only seen a few in previous years but already this season I've been treated to the sight of a fox hunting for and catching a ground squirrel and a fox den with 5 adorable kits.  You can click on the first photo and do this as a slide show and the photos will be larger.  The first three are taken near the den with several of the kits and one with the mother with them.  The last two shots are of different fox in another area of the park.  The fox jumped and went straight down on the squirrel then carried it.  I suspect she took it to a den to feed her young as she disappeared for a moment and then came out again with nothing.  I want to return to the area and see if I spot any more action.

Return to Yellowstone

Iconic Old Faithful erupts as visitors watch.   It is not my favorite geyser, but seems appropriate at the head of this blog entry.
I arrived back in the park on May 13 to begin my 6th season as a guide\driver.   I was good to be back, seeing old friends, meeting new ones, seeing the sites that thrill me.  It is a feeling of homecoming.

This year had one major difference. Always before the site for my RV has been plowed out, but snow has surrounded me on three sides and getting to the hookups usually involved some digging and chopping to get thru well packed snow.  Not this year.  The ground was bare.  Yellowstone had a light snow year, milder than normal temperatures.   During the winter season, snowcoaches and snowmobiles could not come in from the west entrance as there wasn't enough snow to cover the road.  Since my arrival we have had lots of rain which helps offset the lack of snowpack.  Flowers are blooming early, the ice was off the lakes at an earlier date than I have ever seen.  This rain may help prevent a bad wildfire year, but only time will tell.  We did have a good snowfall on May 16th; fun to see everything flocked with fresh snow.
Friends arrived for a visit just in time for the snowstorm.  Here Lance photographs while Yoshi heads back to the warm car. It continued to snow most of the morning.

I am the photo guide out of Old Faithful, driving the classy historic yellow bus (the eight buses, 706 White Motor Company touring cars\buses were built between 1936-1938), taking guests to scenic spots of the lower west side of the park.   Doug Hilborn and Lisa Culpepper will continue to cover the Lake area, and we have a new driver, Rod Franklin to cover my two days off plus other tours.  He is a great addition to the team.

Unfortunately the early season has seen two people seriously gored by bison.  People get too close despite warning signs, information in the park brochure and newspaper they get when they check in, information in the visitor centers, and news media stories about the gorings.   The desire to get a "selfie" with the bison in the background backs people up too close.  It is scary and disturbing.  Some of my guests remind me it is Darwin's theory in practice.

Here are a few photos from the beginning of the season.   Internet usually bogs down as the park gets more crowded but I will try to keep up this summer.  It may mean choosing photos to a file but waiting to upload until I have a day off and journey to a town outside the park.  Next trip is Bozeman as I have a lens that needs repair.

Morning fog plus steam from geothermal run off creates a soft, moody scene among the bobby sox trees.  These trees, with white roots and base, have been drowned by the changing flow of hot water from springs and geysers.  Minerals in the water remain and preserve the trees.

Morning fog highlighs the cobwebs.

Cool mornings accentuates the steam from geothermal features. This is the Gibbon River

Bison are strong swimmers and the calves learn early.  This is in Lamar Valley

The young bison calves are playful.  They are often referred to as "red dogs" due to their coloring.  By fall they will have their brown winter coats and will be the same color as the adults.  Single calves are born.  The fact there are two in the photo does not indicate twins.  They are simply playmates and the other mother is nearby.  In spring the adults are losing their winter coats and look very shaggy.

I continue to be fascinated by the mud pots.  Here I love the light and texture of semi-hardened mud.  Mostly I try to photograph the mud bubbles as they burst.
Cow Elk and bison share a meadow along the Madison River

I've only seen three bears so far this season.  These grizzlies and one black bear.

Firehole Falls

Trumpeter Swan

This was the morning it snowed.  Warm water flows through this area so the snow is spotty.  Other places it was a continuous layer, about 3 inches deep.

More mud bubbles with reflections in the muddy water.