Nature Moments: Yellowstone Wolves

Magical Moments in Nature

If you spend a lot of time in nature, you are bound to have some magical moments. Nature is all around us. Sometimes grand in scope like a National Park and sometimes our own backyard. One of my magical moments happened on a grand scale – in every way possible.

Girl’s Trip!

It was a cold overcast winter afternoon in Yellowstone National Park – Saturday, February 4, 2017. A girl’s trip! Chris (my sister-in-law), Misia (my niece) and I past through the Roosevelt Arch at the northern entrance of Yellowstone National Park for an adventure. The plan, okay the hope, to see a wolf.

Yellowstone wolves!

The wolf conjures up many thoughts, feelings and emotions. Most people know that since the beginning of time, there have been wolf haters and wolf lovers. For those that know me, it will come as no surprise that I am a wolf lover.

I am an animal lover period.

Wolves were eradicated from Yellowstone in the 1920’s, but reintroduced back into Yellowstone in January of 1995. I have been waiting since that reintroduction to see one. A mere 22 years compared to the wolf’s 75 years of waiting to be reunited with its natural habitat. In those 22 years, the anticipation and expectation of what it would be like to see a wolf did nothing to prepare me for the actual moment.

As we entered the park, the clouds clung to the horizon, and more often than not, melded into one with the snowcapped mountains. Elk and buffalo were the first to greet us, but we remained focused on our goal as days are short during the winter months in Yellowstone.

As we left Mammoth, we followed the only road open to car travel and headed east. Soon we saw a group of four people off to the side of the road in a pull out. Each with their own spotting scopes focused on a distant mountainside. We knew we had to stop. There was no doubt what they were looking for or at.

One of the couples were German, and like most wolf-watchers, were more than generous in sharing their find with curious on-lookers. As I gazed through the lens of this stranger’s scope, I saw my first pair of wolves. A big beautiful black male lying in the snow and a gorgeous graceful gray female coming to greet him. They met nose to nose making a brief loving jester to one another. These were the alphas of the pack.

I stepped away from the scope hardly believing what I just witnessed. Two wild wolves in their wild habitat being free to be wolves! I was bursting with joy inside. I looked at the German woman who towered over me, looking as large as a grizzly due to her oversized winter coat and I stated, “Oh my goshhh! You just showed me my very first wild wolf!! I am so going to hug you!!!” and she opened her big bear arms and I hugged her.

Chris and Misia were soaking in their moment as well, and our gracious hosts kept encouraging us to look through their scopes. I gazed through another and there were three other wolves walking in the snow slowly moving up the mountain. We were told there were 10 total and that this was the 8-mile pack.

I was overflowing with excitement.

So much so I stepped away from the group and literally did a happy dance right there in the turnout while silently screaming in my head, “WE SAW WOLVES!!!!!!!” I just could not contain my excitement. As the group smiled at my excitement, and no doubt impressed with my impromptu dance, I slowly began to cry. Happy tears! I was truly touched deep down to my soul with this experience. I wonder if the extended length of time for this experience to manifest added to the emotional buildup of it all? Hard to say, but I was the happiest girl in the world at that moment!

We continued to watch the pack slowly and gently meandering about the mountainside as if they didn’t have a care in the world. Such a contrast to the reality of their existence, especially outside of park boundaries which is where this pack originated – Paradise Valley, Montana. Perhaps that reality is what drew them into the park. And then, just like that, they wandered into the trees and they were gone.

Alas, the world suddenly felt a little less wild again.

But we saw wolves, and in my heart, I knew they went on with their lives and mine would forever be changed for having had this brief yet powerful experience as an over joyed grateful observer.

With the naked eye the wolves were impossible to see, they were that far off on that distant mountain. How these wolf-watchers found them in the first place is absolutely amazing to me, but I am ever so thankful they did.

This experience is what pure joy feels like. Nature never disappoints and there is so much more to learn from it. May these beautiful wolves, and wolves everywhere, live long healthy natural wild lives!

“WE SAW WOLVES!!!”

 

FOOTNOTE: This year, 2020, marks the 25th Anniversary of the wolf’s reintroduction into Yellowstone National Park. Not only have wolves prospered within the park, but the entire ecosystem of Yellowstone has benefited from the wolf’s presence. To learn more about their amazing impact, go to https://www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/wolf-reintroduction-changes-ecosystem 

 

 

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10 Responses to Nature Moments: Yellowstone Wolves

  1. Christine Zilinsky February 13, 2020 at 1:04 pm #

    One of my most favorite visits to Yellowstone. Thank you Karen for opening my eyes to the wonders of Nature.

    Chris

    • Karen B. Shea February 13, 2020 at 2:26 pm #

      My pleasure. Thanks for being such a fun fellow explorer!

  2. Patricia February 13, 2020 at 4:21 pm #

    I wish we could bottle the joy that you felt seeing these amazing animals and sprinkle it over every single person on the planet. What a wonderful world this would be!

  3. Misia Zilinsky February 13, 2020 at 4:23 pm #

    Such an awesome day!! I think about it all the time and even though I’m in Yellowstone pretty often I’ve still never seen the wolves again. So glad that the one time I saw them I got to share the moment with you guys 🙂

    • Karen B. Shea February 14, 2020 at 11:00 am #

      I couldn’t agree more Misia! Perhaps the 22 years of waiting for me was so I could expereince it with you (and your Mom). I love our nature expereinces together…which reminds me of another one I must relive sometime soon!

  4. Peggy Zilinsky February 13, 2020 at 6:10 pm #

    Loved your blog. I felt like I was right there with you ladies. Thanks for sharing your experience and enthusiasm with your fans.

    • Karen B. Shea February 14, 2020 at 11:02 am #

      Thanks, Peggy! So glad you enjoyed the expereince.

  5. Mike February 13, 2020 at 7:00 pm #

    Cool sighting ladies. One night in the White Clouds Wilderness, late at night two wolves paid Zeus and I a visit. The three of them had a two hour play date romping through the forest like old friends. Zeus unfortunately got some kind of, I call it, wolf VD. Crazy night, I was terrified to tell the truth. I never left my tent. I just laid there with my pistol listening and watching. It was exciting.

    • Karen B. Shea February 14, 2020 at 11:09 am #

      OMG, Mikey, that is a crazy cool experience. Don’t you wish Zeus could talk so he could have told you all about it? And for you to hear it all but not see it? A bit intimidating to say the least! I wonder if they wanted to invite him into their pack? Glad he came back to you, except for coming back with you know what! HeeHee!

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