During my last expedition across Yellowstone National Park in 2012, I had the chance to photograph this stunning sunrise over Duck Lake, on the way to Old Faithful, after leaving West Thumb early in the morning.
As I was taking the shots to create the panorama, wolves began serenading me. At least that’s what I told myself as I made my way up the pass. There were at first a few mournful howls as the sun warmed up the horizon, then they all broke into a symphony for what seemed minutes, then went dead silent as the echo faded across the valley.
One of my more memorable experiences of crossing Yellowstone, the sound of wolves stayed with me for the rest of the trip. I even had one following me over to Old Faithful later that night. There were a few snow coaches that passed and photographed it, then later saw me along the same road. Many of the passengers demanded the driver go back and warn me that a wolf was following me.
None of the drivers turned around because they were all not worried, as they know the wolves are very spooky in the park. I didn’t learn about this until some time later when a ranger related the story to me. I got a good laugh, as I did see the markings and paw prints in the snow from the huge prehistoric dog. He (or she) certainly had followed me and got close enough that I expected to see eyes with the howls. It really wanted to know what I was, the stranger walking through its land in the night. As so few rarely travel through Yellowstone in this fashion, I was a curiosity.
It was frightening and all at once exhilarating to have something that weighs nearly as much as I with speed and teeth following me. For all the times I’ve been through Yellowstone in the summer and winter, I’ve never actually seen a wolf. They’ve walked by my tent, left tracks inspecting me, and even stalked me. Yet they’ve never approached me, somehow knowing what I was.
Perhaps he/she was following me because I had shortbread cookies.