Sunday, August 12 – What a Week!

In mid-June we both bought hiking boots. We carefully hand-selected them at Walmart, shrewdly shopping only from their Walmart Premium line (for cheapskates with discriminating taste). Last week on a 5 mile hike to Fairy Falls the soles of both of Mary Ann’s boots blew out, thus granting immediate entry to all manner of unwanted trail debris (such as bugs, rocks, pebbles, and other granular materials) and having the net effect of precluding any future hikes requiring rugged footwear.

Grand Prismatic, on the trail to Fairy Falls

So, on Tuesday we went on a picnic to Nez Perc Ford (the correct pronunciation is whatever you want it to be, but I think it was named for some guy whose truck kept breaking down). This is a normally quiet section of the Yellowstone River, just south of Hayden Valley and a short  distance from a major bison thoroughfare.

Me and Kalaig at Nez Perc Ford. Not pictured: 60 pounds of photo gear, in use

Shortly after we arrived and set up our chairs, puppy dog, and 60 pounds of camera gear, we hear a peculiar bird chirping. Mary Ann quickly spotted a baby otter in the river, swimming with the current, intermittently submerging below the surface of the water, then re-emerging and letting out a chirp. In a sudden and unexpected burst of brilliance, Mary Ann simultaneously grabbed her camera (capturing this photo) and deduced that the hapless otter was an orphaned pup drifting hopelessly toward the 109 and 308 foot waterfalls a short distance downstream. I’m sure it survived.

Chirping baby otter enroute to falls


A short while later we noticed that traffic on the main road had come to a complete stop. And stayed that way. We also began hearing deep, low grunts off in the distance and wondered what wild beast was approaching. To find out I walked a few hundred yards back toward the road and found the source of both the traffic disruption and the grunts: about 30 bison were on the east and west sides of the road, and ON the road. And they are now “in the rut” which in ancient Yellowstone-ese means it is mating season. It took a ranger in a truck equipped with high tech electronic equipment (known as a “horn”) and specially designed bison rut season herding equipment (known as a bumper) half an hour to get all the bison off the road. It took another hour for the traffic jam to finally clear up.

Horny bison creating big traffic jam


The season here is starting to wind down. The marina now has shortened hours, closing at 6PM instead of 8. The scenic cruise now has two fewer trips each day and guided fishing trips are due back in two hours sooner. Some of the younger employees have left or plan to leave soon to return wherever home is in time to start classes. We have plans to be on the road around mid-September. Meanwhile some of our RV park neighbors have left or plan to leave soon. It’s kind of sad to see it all end and in a way it feels like we just got here.

What’s unusual (I’m told) this year is the weather. It has stayed warmer longer. Consequently, even though the marina has fewer available time slots and fewer employees, we still have hoards of customers who want to be entertained. As a result, the activity level (and stress) are beyond what I could have imagined a mere month ago.

Note to horny bison: get a room.

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2 Responses to Sunday, August 12 – What a Week!

  1. Terry says:

    It feels like you were just blogging about the snow on your doorstep, now summer’s over? Can’t wait to see you guys!

  2. char says:

    Glad to see you are still having fun (except for the hiking boots). I hope the last weeks in the park will provide you with more great adventures and wonderful photos!