Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf

Katie:

Given the popularity of Yellowstone, you know that whenever large groups of people have pulled their cars over, there’s something ‘wild’ to see. On the way back from a hike, we see people pulling up beside a bridge, running over, leaning over the side to point at something. Naturally, we do the same, despite having no idea what we’re actually looking at, but such is the desire to see something, anything. I notice a large branch in the water, moving steadily against the current. Looking closer, there is a beaver attached to the branch, dragging it upstream towards a sandy bank, where it’s joined by a couple of other beavers. They’re lovely little creatures to watch, but it’s getting late in the day and we have to head on.

We drive towards our campsite, with only a couple of bison related stops. Rounding a bend, we have to come to a sudden stop. The usually quiet road is teeming with people. This isn’t the usual ‘park in the designated pull-in zones and then get out to take a picture’ routine, this is people leaving their cars in the middle of the road, and jostling for position by the side of the river, while drivers coming from the other direction find themselves blocked in. It’s absolute chaos, and we wonder what the hell is going on to have caused this. We park up and, again, join the herd of people to find out what’s happening. People are talking excitedly and the same word is used over and over….wolf.

On the other side of the river, perhaps 100 metres or so away, lies a bison carcass. The bison died a few days previously due to a head on collision with another bison. I knew those heads were ridiculously huge.

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Apparently, behind the bison carcass is a wolf. We can only see a blob of grey behind the bison and, thrilled as I am to be in the vicinity of a wild wolf, it comes tinged with the  disappointment of not really ‘seeing’ it, and having to share it with so many other people. We stay there for a while, hoping to see more, but the wolf seems happy to stay out of view behind the carcass.

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Over the next few days we make regular visits to see if anything is changed. There are always still a lot of people there, hoping for the same thing. All we can see, still, is the grey blob.

On our last morning, the heavens open, the rain pours, and the wind swirls all the dust that has accumulated in the dry weather.

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We leave our campsite, and I’m still feeling regretful about the wolf. The road out of Yellowstone takes us back to the river, and we see that the rain has driven all but the most devoted people away.

The rain also seems to have driven the wolf out of hiding. There he is, in plain view, attacking the carcass, and pulling on it viciously like a dog with a chew toy.

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The wolf is bigger than I was expecting, with long thin legs, that pace back and forth around the bison, wondering how to make any headway.

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I’m absolutely ecstatic. The rain has cleared slightly, giving us a better view, and the wolf seems totally unconcerned by our presence. The only thing on his mind is the bison.

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Later on, whilst getting coffee in a store further on, I hear a ranger talking to the shop assistant, telling her that the massive downpour of rain, after the heat, had made all the animals go crazy. He said he saw grown bison frolicking around like calves, there were numerous grizzly bear sightings, and of course, the wolf. I really don’t want to leave but, as ever, time is against us. Yellowstone was absolutely incredible, on many different levels. Let’s see what Montana has in store for us.


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