Yellowstone’s winter season in the Interior is now a month from shutting down. Where does all the time go? I have been guiding five days a week again this season for Yellowstone Alpen Guides, making this my 9th year and never have I enjoyed guiding as much as this winter. Luckily, this season, we have decent snow. Truth be told, after last years bleak winter, I was not looking forward to guiding in YNP. Mother Nature was providing us with almost weekly snow storms, but now that February has hit, she’s as dry as dirt. And it’s unseasonably warm to boot. The past few days have seen the snow melting from my roof and piling up as ice on the ground, then running into our garage as I frantically try to chip away the glacial mound in front of the door.
Is this the new norm? Currently, its 33 degrees at 11am…it’s not even noon yet! A week or so ago, the morning temp was -33 degrees. I took a break for a couple hours and tended to our roof and the melting snow, now the temps are reading almost 45 degrees. I should be fishing but adulting is getting in the way. The roads in West Yellowstone are showing signs of spring and spring in these parts is normally a couple months away.
Overall, there has been plenty of wildlife along way to Old Faithful and of course the scenery never gets old. The Canyon runs have been little void of life from time to time, but recently there have been bison on the move in the Gibbon Canyon, which means that coyotes and foxes are making an appearance as well. Wolves have not had much of a presence this season along the Madison, Gibbon and Firehole. There’s been a few sightings, but overall they have been non existent. I would say that has something do with the 94% snow pack and the fact that there are more elk around Big Sky, Gardiner and in the Madison Valley around Cameron, MT. Wolves chase elk and the elk population is down to just a couple dozen, if that, animals on the west side of the park along the Madison drainage. There are two small bull elk and one giant bull living along the Madison River around 7 Mile bridge. So far, they look very healthy. While winter is not over just yet, this break from the cold is nice for every single living thing in these parts.
I’m off to town for a while, with any luck it will be nice enough to drink a beer outside this evening. Pray for snow.