June 13, 2010
Meet the 2010 Team
View the 2010 Itinerary
This year's Yellowstone Ecology Institute kicked off with an early morning flight from Raleigh. Even though some of us were tired, we could sense the excitement building as we boarded the plane for Bozeman. As the plane began its descent into Bozeman, we could see the tops of snow-capped mountains peeking through the clouds. We couldn’t have asked for better weather to start our trip — sunny, slight breeze, temperatures in the 60s. As one educator put it as we stepped outside, “Fantastic! Next stop Yellowstone!”
As we began the drive to Yellowstone, Mike told us to have our binoculars and cameras ready, and he was right! While driving along Highway 89 towards Yellowstone, we learned about the geology of the land and spotted numerous species of wildlife — Mule Deer, Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Ravens, White Pelicans and Osprey.
Entering the park, we paused for a moment in front of the historic Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance to Yellowstone. Since 1903, visitors to the park have passed through this arch, but we were in vans and not in stage coaches! We learned that the wolves that were reintroduced to the Park had also passed through the arch.
In the late afternoon we had our group meeting to discuss our goals and get the “rules of the road” which include respecting the park by not collecting anything; respecting the wildlife by not approaching too closely; and respecting the experience by letting go of everyday life, including cell phones, for a few days.
After dinner we headed for our first hike at Wraith Falls, but before we got there, we came across an Elk jam! Three big bull Elk, still in velvet, were grazing near the road, which caused many cars, including us, to stop for a photo op. The hike to Wraith Falls treated us to a great bluebird view and a Yellow-bellied Marmot who wasn’t shy about posing for the camera. The evening ended with a special treat — four Coyote pups romping and playing as the sun set behind the mountains. The perfect end to a great first day.