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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Exploring Yellowstone

September 3rd, 2012 · 2 Comments

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Mark and I had two more full days to explore Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, and we made the most of it. Each morning we were out before sunrise and back to our cabin near Roosevelt Lodge after sunset.

Each of the three days had the same themes, but with variations. We saw wolves every day, although after the first day we could see them only through spotting scopes, too far away to photograph. We also saw many of the park’s 4,300 bison every day, although after our first day they weren’t too close for comfort. We saw different birds each day.

Each day we hiked to a different lake. One day we also hiked along a rushing mountain stream. On another day we hiked to where we could view a 132-foot waterfall.

We started our second day in the dark and drove all across the north end of Yellowstone to Cooke City, Montana, just outside Yellowstone’s northeast entrance. We ended that day by driving to Mammoth Hot Springs, where we ate at the more upscale restaurant there, which also had the only Internet access we could get in the park.

During each of the three days we were there we made sure to take it easy during the middle of the day when the light is harsher and the wildlife less active. We napped, read, and backed up our photos.

“This is really a relaxing vacation!,” Mark exclaimed more than once. It was for me too.

Near Cooke City as we returned to Yellowstone we spotted this chubby-looking hawk. Every time I look at this picture I imagine that I see a stuffed guy sitting back contentedly with his hands in his pockets.

This Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) Looks Satisfied (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/1500, ISO 800)

This Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) Looks Satisfied (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/1500, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The shot of the insect below was more of a challenge than the hawk, because I could get down to its level while getting up to the level of the hawk was impossible. To photograph this bug I lay flat on the dusty Rescue Creek Trail. While I don’t enjoy getting dusty as much as the bison I saw the previous day apparently did, I guess I still have a little boy in me, because this was fun.

A Grasshopper or Similar Insect (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO 800)

A Mormon Cricket (Anabrus simplex) (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

I especially wanted to hike to lakes and along creeks. Waterfalls were more Mark’s thing. So we did both. The photo below is the one and only Tower Fall. Unlike other waterfalls I’ve seen, this is singular — fall, not falls.

Tower Fall is 132 Feet Straight Down (Canon 7D with 10-24mm lens at 21mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 100)

Tower Fall is 132 Feet Straight Down (Canon 7D with 10-24mm lens at 21mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 100)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

When Mark and I asked Park Ranger Sara Sprinkle for her recommendation of a good lake to hike to, she recommended Lost Lake. She said she had seen ducks there that she hadn’t been able to identify. Back home, I sent her this photo with ID.

A Female Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) Rests Between Dives into Lost Lake (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/180, ISO 800)

A Female Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) Rests Between Dives into Lost Lake (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/180, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Lost Lake has even more water lily plants than it has birds. But this late in the year, only three of the water lilies remained in bloom.

One of the Last Water Lilies in Bloom at Lost Lake (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO 800)

One of the Last Water Lilies in Bloom at Lost Lake (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The next day we hiked along Tower Creek above the fall. We hiked until we got to the washed-out bridge and then went as far along the creek as we could comfortable proceed. After turning around, we sat down to rest on a log. Here was where in the fading light of the day we saw a bird in the creek I had heard of a lot but had never before seen. The usual name of this bird is the American Dipper. But it has an alias that I prefer, the Water Ouzel. It is an unusual aquatic bird known for its ability to walk and feed underwater.

An American Dipper or Water Ouzel (Cinclus mexicanus) in Tower Creek (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO 600)

An American Dipper or Water Ouzel (Cinclus mexicanus) in Tower Creek (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO 600)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The flower below was in bloom at the edge of the creek and behind a log that partially obscures our view of the base.

Color Along Tower Creek (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO 800)

Color Along Tower Creek (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO 800)

Click on the picture above to enlarge

We hiked many miles and kept busy these days. But when you love what you do it’s play, not work.

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Posted in: Photography

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 zahava // Sep 27, 2012 at 8:21 am

    I just love your articles , it has been years now

    shana tova

  • 2 Fran Stearns // Oct 3, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Lovely to watch Ouzels hunt in water…purposeful, strong swimmers.

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