Photo: Moose on the Loose

In Grand Teton National Park, when I was there this summer, there were 2 very good looking bull moose that hung out in a swampy area right beside the main road in the park.

I spent hours upon hours there watching them and taking a billion photos at every angle possible. Here’s one of them in the process of standing up to go in search of some tasty tree leaves to munch on.

Black vs Grizzly bear – who is who?

I’ve been lucky enough in the past 3 summers to immerse myself in nature and to do this with an expert in wildlife, my boyfriend.

Since seeing my first bear in 2009, it has been my mission to pick out the difference between a black bear and grizzly bear, as other tourists would often shout out that they have just seen a grizzly bear, when, in fact – it was a black bear.

There are a few key differences to help differentiate between the two:

1. Black bears have a straight snout, while grizzlies have a dished in snout/face profile.

2. Black bears do not have a pronounced shoulder hump, while grizzlies do.

3. Black bears ears stick out more, grizzlies are less pronounced.

4. Black bears have shorter claws, you can definitely see grizzlies light long claws a lot more clearly.

5. Black bears, for the most part are much smaller than grizzlies.

Guess the bear – black or grizzly:

Bear #1

Yellowstone National Park

Bear #2

Yellowstone National Park

Bear #3

Yellowstone National Park

Bear #4

Yellowstone National Park

Bear #5

Waterton, Alberta

Bear #6

Waterton, Alberta

Bear #7

Kananaskis, Alberta

Answers:

#1 – Grizzly #2 – Black Bear #3 – Grizzly #4 – Black Bear #5 – Black Bear #6 – Black Bear #7 – Grizzly

How did you do?

PS – Read my view on wildlife photography.

Photo: La Luna

I loved the colour of the sky here, as the moon rose above the hill here in Sedge Bay, near the East Gate in Yellowstone National Park.

Here I was, with my boyfriend, his parents and all of our camera’s. We were attempting to photograph marmots that were climbing all over the rock outcroppings at the base of this hill you see in the photo. My attention started to wander, as it always does, and I saw the moon rise up, and place itself in a very beautiful deep blue sky.

If you are looking for some peace – go here.

Photo: Mailing a letter AND relieving yourself all at once.

A mailbox

A mailbox that is beside an outhouse

Your welcome.

No explanation needed, right? It’s so convenient. Out here in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park. Why wouldn’t I think to mail my hydro bill on this lonely road in the middle of a national park while about to head into a stinky ol outhouse?

#2 Hike of the Summer: Avalanche Peak, Yellowstone

I actually lost sleep last night deciding on what hike I would place in the #2 spot, and which one would be the ultimate #1 hike that I completed this summer. It was a very tight competition,  both with spectacular views and a great challenge.

BUT alas, one had to receive the silver medal, and after much flip flopping, Avalanche Peak by the East Gate won the second prize.

With a 2,100 foot elevation gain, the view of Yellowstone park at 10, 568 feet was SPECTACULAR! It took my breath away, as did most of the haul uphill. The recommended 4 – 6 hour experience lasted my boyfriend and I a shade under an hour and a half. This was partly due to the approaching dark clouds. With this being one of the tallest peaks in the region, we didn’t want to get caught in the lightning storm, obviously! So I must say, it was a quick jog down – straight down. I mean, I actually slid down the side of the mountain where the snow hadn’t melted yet.

Yes – it was steep. The steepest hike I have ever done, actually.

There wasn’t a dull moment on the hike up – filled with large aspens, and bright green ferns at ground level. A few springs popped out around the trail, and a hop or two over them were an adventure. I really DID mean to wash my hiking boots on this trip…

Once we arrived at the first opening, we were greeted with a snowy ground, a pretty little lake, and huge STORM CLOUDS quickly heading our way. We decided it was possible to beat the incoming rain if we quickened our pace. Phew – easier said than done. The elevation was getting to me, and the commencing shale trail was a bit tricky to cross.

The opening! If you could look to the left – pitch black skies!

We saw a few groups turning back due to the tricky ground and one couple in a bit of a tizzy – they had just seen a BEAR on the trail! Gasp – so we proceed with caution with our bear spray in hand, with the couple, as they pointed out the bear they were so worried about – a tiny deer about a mile away grazing on a grassy knoll. I actually had to get my binoculars out to see it. Oops.

Onward and upward, leaving that couple in the dust to coo over the deer.

After a careful,  yet quick march to the summit, we were greeted by a solo hiker sitting cross legged staring off into the distance. It felt appropriate when I greeted him and asked, “so, the meaning of life is…..?”. He also found that quite hilarious and admitted that he was trying to catch his breath.

The summit was actually not at this first peak, you actually have to go across a short ridge, and there you will find the official summit. And what you see when you look around this 360 degree view is amazingness all around. From this vantage point, you could see everything! We could point out Yellowstone Lake, Mount Washburn, even the Tetons which were 50 miles to the south!

If you are looking for the best view in the park – stop here and I dare you to find a better one.

Stormy!

Hiking with 10,000 lbs of camera gear.

 

 

PS – watch out for the wind 🙂

Absolutely idiodic

Watch this video.

It’s a “what not to do when encountering wildlife” video.

Something that I have witnessed, but not to such a degree.

And, what? The father laughs at the end? Don’t worry, Yellowstone is just a circus. You won’t ACTUALLY feel it when the bison gores you and seriously injures or kills your child. THAT IS SARCASTIC by the way.

It’s unbelievable. A few years ago, a child was killed by a bison when the father thought it was an a-ok idea to place his kid on the bison’s back for a good point-and-shoot picture.

Listen to the rangers, the pamphlets, and the signs: STAY 25 YARDS AWAY FROM BISON.

I just talked (rationally) about this a few days ago. Sorry, but this was absolutely IDIOTIC!

Top 4 hikes a la summer- #4 Specimen Ridge, Yellowstone

Welcome to Lamar Valley in Yellowstone. One of my favorite areas in this vast park.

I know I mentioned earlier that I would talk about my top 3 hikes this summer, but I just had to include my #4 pick.

At a starting elevation of 8864 feet (end 9600 feet), it’s very surprising if you happen to see anyone else on the trail (aside from a herd of pronghorn).

As the name states, it is one of the ridges of Amethyst Mountain, starting just past the Yellowstone River.  And you basically have this place to yourself. Not many people set out to hike this trail, that, as we discovered, had many paths.

And, as the name also states, you may see some fine specimen on this trail, including: pronghorn, grizzly bear, elk, bison, and rarely, moose.

Which path to take? Umm, we decided uphill was the way to go – the steeper, the better.

What my boyfriend and I found amazing about this hike, aside from the lack of people on the trail, was the glimpse we got of Yellowstone ‘behind the scenes’.

We could see, to our right, the Tower Falls area. A place where we spent countless hours watching two sets of black bears with cubs. We had no idea how enormous the area was behind the ridge. Imagine all the wildlife we would be able to spot if we could have seen into this area!! It just blew my mind.

To our left, we could see the entrance to the Lamar Valley, and again, our mouths were dropped at the areas we would never have be able to see from the road.

Difficulty? I would say moderate. It’s a high elevation hike, little shade, and steep hills. Make sure you have good hiking boots, or you might end up downhill skiing as I did on the way back.