The Trickster

In Native American cultures the coyote is often a trickster who assumes different forms, and in these guises Canis latrans almost always acts outside the rules of accepted behavior. When I crossed paths with him in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley one morning, however, he seemed more intent on digging mice out of melting snow than playing tricks on a photographer.

The cold waters he crossed quickly are part of Soda Butte Creek, which hugs the highway between Mammoth Hot Springs and Cooke City for a short distance. I’ve always enjoyed the Lamar Valley for its wide-open stance and (relative) quiet compared to other areas in Yellowstone. Wolves were once common in the valley (there are fewer now), and bison and pronghorn antelope still accent the landscape when you least expect them.

Leaving the park in its northeast corner you’re soon in Cooke City, and if you’re hungry when you arrive I’ll recommend the Soda Butte Lodge. Besides tasty food, they have east/west Web cams pointing out of town, and when I took a look this morning there was winter, the guest who doesn’t know when to leave the party, acting like it owns the place.


While La Niña receives credit for our strong, quirky weather this year, I wouldn’t be too surprised if another character right in our midst is having the last laugh.

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