After our unexpected wolf encounter the night before, we woke up long before dawn and hit the road in search of some more wildlife. It had rained overnight in and snowed in some places Yellowstone and the roads were a bit slick as we drove through the dark. We wanted to be well within the park at first light.
Sure enough, as soon as the sun began to come up, cars started congregating and people were lining the side of the road with their scopes. The Molly wolf pack was spending its 11th day way outside its normal territory we were told, and people were getting nervous about the impact on the other tribes would be. Apparently the pack had recently killed the alpha male of another pack which was bound to cause some trouble.
The wolves were perched high on the side of the mountain and were only visible through a scope and I sincerely had no idea how any one had ever spotted them in the first place, but clearly there was a very strong wolf watching culture to be found in Yellowstone in December.
After borrowing a spotting scope to check out the wolves and their overnight kill, we hopped in the car and kept driving east through the park to see what else was to be seen for the day. The weather quickly took a turn for the worse, and before long we were driving through an all out blizzard. Although the road conditions quickly became precarious, the local bison didn’t seem to mind the snow a bit.
Eventually, we decided to flip around and head back to Tower Junction in hopes that we might find ski trails that weren’t in the middle of a huge blizzard. We temporary got our car stuck in the snow as we made a U-turn in one of the pull outs, but as soon as we were free, our route took us right back into beautiful sunny skies.
At the head of the Tower Falls trail, I curled up and took a nap in the car while Ben took a couple of passes on his skate skis. An hour later, he woke me up and we headed up to the falls on our classic skis. Although it was windy, the weather was just about perfect for skiing.
The falls were almost all frozen over, but through a couple of holes in the ice, we could still see the water flowing behind the beautiful ice sculpture.
Once we reached the car, we headed down the road a mile or so and skied in another 1/4 mile to see this petrified tree. By then, I was absolutely starving, and ready to get back to civilization and find some dinner.
Unfortunately, as we headed back into town, we decided to make one last top where we’d seen the wolf the night before, requiring me to make another U-turn. I overshot the road, and before I knew it, two of our tires were sunk well below the road in thick, wet snow.
We made a meager attempt at getting free and some kind people pulled over to help Ben push but it was to no avail. We were really, really stuck. A ranger showed up mere minutes after the whole thing happened and he had a tow truck on the way. He estimated that the tow truck would arrive in a half hour or so.
While we waited, many many people stopped to ask us if we were ok. People in national parks pretty much always amaze me at how considerate they can be. We sat in the car for another hour while I suffered a fair bit of humiliation about our predicament. I was still starving and tired and anxious to get back to our room.
Gratefully, the tow guy eventually showed up, quickly freed us from our predicament, and everyone made a lot of fuss about the ice on the road. Once freed, Ben kindly drove us back to the hotel since I was terrified of getting myself into another humiliating predicament.
Once fed, I was feeling a little better about life in general (pretty normal for me). We took a few minutes to hang out in the map room which served as a place for people to sit and read, play games, or use the chess tables they had in place. Puzzles, books, and games were all available for guest use. Live piano music played as people wound down from their chilly days in the park. All in all, I felt like we’d stepped a back in time a hundred years.