Friday, January 21, 2011

Yosemite in Winter - 3 of 3

Peering into that broad Yosemite valley, Jenny and I contemplated a fairly typical end to our trip. We come to this park about once every couple years, generally following a similar itinerary. Yesterday we savored the laughing waters of Lower Falls and hiked the prairies. Earlier today we visited Mirror Lake and Bridalveil. Now we would head west for home, anticipating between four and five hours of conversation, and maybe a nice dinner somewhere. Only this time, Jenny wanted to shake things up a bit: We would drive through the tunnel and check out the scenery that leads to the Wawona Hotel - maybe snap a picture or two.

As we exited the long passage Jenny gasped - she saw a wolf! I craned my neck around but was certain that she'd actually seen a dog - maybe a German Sheppard. "More likely a malamute," I chuckled. "You don't even know what a malamute is," Jenny reminded me. Well, technically, yes, I had to agree. But either way, this was a dog. I kept driving, slowly realizing that Jenny'd never forgive me if we missed a chance to see a wolf up close. So I turned around and headed back, joining two cars parked nearby.

We stared in awe. His eyes darted with each movement; his ears pricked with the subtlest cluck. I had to admit it: "You might be right, Jen!" Some goofball had tossed him a Slim Jim - bad news for wild animals - which meant he had a high tolerance for gawkers. Scrambling to attach the telephoto lens, Jenny snapped dozens of shots. About 20 minutes later we drove off, thrilled with our discovery.

Only a few days later would be find out that our new friend is actually a coyote, not a wolf. No matter. I thought he was a malamute!

(Photographs by Jenny Wood)

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