A Day of Lasts

A black bear peeks out from the branches of a pine tree as it eats pine cones on the Mount Washburn Trail (South) in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming on October 1, 2011. Original: _MG_1253.crw

As I descended Mount Washburn on my last hike on the last day of my trip to Yellowstone in the fall of 2011, I met this black bear feasting on pine cones up in a tree beside the trail, the bear and I at eye level courtesy of the steep hillside. The bear was relaxed and hardly anyone passed by in the late afternoon so I sat down and spent a blissful hour watching it fatten up for the winter. At last it ambled down the tree and waddled off into the forest and I continued down to my ever faithful Subaru to start the long journey home. I couldn’t have known then it would be my last hike in this wonderful park, and as I recall my last bear sighting as well. At least I went out on a high note!

A Lovely Pair

A pair of mountain goats in Yellowstone National Park

This pair of mountain goats reminds me of a pair of Kiwis (or were they Aussies?) that I met at the lookout on the top of Mount Washburn. They were young and touring a bunch of national parks in my homeland and asked my opinions on my favorite parks. They were lovely folks and although I headed back down the trail before them, they later came running past, saying the ranger had told them there were mountain goats near the trail. I kept my walking pace and arrived a short time after them, but the goats were already all the way down the hill and moving off. I got a quick picture but a better memory, meeting nice people on the trails is one of the joys of our national parks.

The goats aren’t native to Yellowstone but they were perfectly adapted to this part of the park, I was astounded at how quickly and easily they covered the steep slopes below the trail. I was even more impressed by the time I arrived back at the car, huffing and puffing, and unconvincingly consoled myself that they’d probably be equally slow and tired if they were carrying a heavy camera and lens.

Big Horns, Little Tails

Big Horns, Little Tails

I met a group of bighorn sheep ewes and lambs while hiking up to Mount Washburn on the last day of my trip to Yellowstone in 2011. They were on the trail itself and while it is a wide trail it was still a bit unnerving to have to walk so close. They were very relaxed, however, so I put the telephoto end of my zoom to good use and played around with some close-ups, including this shot of a ewe’s tail.