February break leads to frozen adventure


Cinnamon Sullivan

For February break, Decatur juniors Kendall Lewis and Savannah Sullivan and freshmen Summer Sullivan and Claudia Tansey ventured out to Yellowstone National Park.

The Sullivan sisters had been to Yellowstone two times before and seen the “normal” tourist things. This time, though, they did something a little different – they went on a snowmobile tour.

They snowmobiled for two days straight, only stopping at night to sleep. They drove their own snowmobiles, but a tour guide led the way.

There was no shortage of wildlife, and Tansey said the group saw some pretty remarkable sights, even by Yellowstone standards. They were driving down the road and saw a black speck howling up on a mountain – through their “spotting scope,” they saw that it was a male wolf with a white spot on his chest.

But that was only the beginning of the story. They kept on driving, only to stop again when they saw more cars gathered on the side of the road. Here they saw a pack of about 15.

Their tour guide explained that the male wolf – named Big Blaze – had been howling for a mate. The pack of 15, the Mollie Pack, was angry that Big Blaze wanted to mate with one of their own – Big Blaze was an outsider, and that’s not allowed.

Tansey said that if so many people hadn’t been watching, the Mollie Pack would have run across the street to chase Big Blaze – the tourists’ presence actually protected Big Blaze from a fight.

But that wasn’t their only close encounter. At one point, a buffalo stood in their way in the middle of the road. “The tour guide told us that it could possibly ram us, and my mom said ‘Oh great,’” Tansey said.

As they were leaving Yellowstone for the airport, they saw a wolf on the side of the road. For Tansey, that drove home something she’d realized on the trip: “The animals have their own space, their own state, really,” she said. “It’s crazy how much land they have… it’s miraculous.”