Snow fell often in the days leading up to our first Christmas in Silver Gate. My lower back protested at having to shovel our driveway so frequently, but Marie’s son Aidan – visiting us from the snowless Bay Area – was delighted to have a white Christmas. (“But I’m on vacation,” Aidan responded when asked if he might be willing to help with the shoveling.)
I don’t know if it was all the snow or just the holiday spirit, but Yellowstone’s moose population came out in force. Thunder (our Border Collie) and I drove into the park early every morning, as always, and more often than not we saw at least one moose, usually more. One morning after a heavy snowfall we watched a big bull moose trigger a miniature blizzard by forcefully scraping his antlers against a snow-laden pine tree.
Not to be outdone by the moose, Yellowstone’s river otters continued their string of entertaining performances in Lamar Valley. On several different occasions I watched a group of three otters fish and frolic in the half-frozen Lamar River.
Unfortunately the otters became scarce again after Christmas, but the moose kept their hooves on the gas.
I’d gone a long while without seeing a fox, which was odd because the trail cam in our yard caught foxes trotting by almost every night. Finally at the end of December I stumbled across a fox hunting rodents in the snow near Pebble Creek.
Marie and I spent a relaxing, low-key New Year’s Eve in our cabin, and I even managed to stay awake until midnight (and by that I mean midnight on the east coast). On New Year’s Day Thunder and I only made it a mile into the park before running across another moose at Warm Creek. Soon after we saw a moose mom and her calf crossing the road at Round Prairie, and a few days later I almost froze my toes off while photographing three bull moose at Lower Baronette.
Temperatures in the park regularly dropped below -10F, sometimes as low as -30F, and in the extreme cold I always enjoy trying to capture the frosted, icy faces of the bison as they search for forage beneath the snow.
In early January Marie and I tried cross-country skiing, my first time ever and Marie’s first time since childhood. We cruised right from our front door to the Warm Creek trail and (surprisingly?) enjoyed ourselves.
It’s going to be a long winter here, no doubt, but we’re off to a solid start.