Tuesday, July 14, 2015

a bear of a hike

We're back from Yellowstone, head colds gone, laundry caught up and ready to celebrate Mr. G's birthday today. Before his big surprise reveal (stay tuned!) I'll tell you a little story about our big adventure in this amazing park.

We love to hike in the mountains, it's one of the things we most look forward to when we head out west. After spending some time looking at trail maps to calculate distance and altitude, we settled on Mount Washburn for our BIG climb of the trip. This mountain has a ranger station on top, providing a satisfying end to a climb. We ventured up on a chilly afternoon, the wind whistling past our ears as we rose higher.
Cheerful wildflowers punctuated our journey above the treeline, the clouds, up and up and up.
After more than halfway up the mountain, Mr. B and Mr. G were done. I mean, literally laying on the trail refusing to move, DONE. I agreed to accompany them back down the mountain where we'd hang out until Mr. D and Mr. T finished their excursion. We took our time on the descent, resting and admiring the views, discussing our plans for the rest of the day. Back at the truck we snacked on trail mix and water, and after about an hour I decided I'd head back up the trail with our binoculars to see if Mr. T and Mr. D were coming back down the mountain just yet.

I was halfway to the trailhead when this guy runs back to his car and starts digging around and setting up a tripod. He called to his wife to get out of the car and take a look. What did he see?

Galumping down the mountain, right next to the trail I was about to start hiking up, was a grizzly bear!
That bear kept coming. Mr. G and Mr. B and I watched in stunned amazement. After it got this close, we scurried back into the truck because we'd read plenty of warnings. Kids, Yellowstone is NOT a zoo. The wildlife are wild, unregulated and prone to attack people when threatened. Plus, that bear was BIG. We stared at it as it passed directly in front of our truck and I wondered if the guys on the mountain were okay. A few minutes sooner and I'd have been closer to that bear than I'd want to be!
Ten minutes after the bear had continued down the mountain I spotted Mr. T at the top of the ridge. He and Mr. D had a partner, a man who had spotted the bear on his solo climb down and was happy to finish his hike with some company (for safety!). Mr. D figured the bear was about 1/3 a mile away from them, they kept it within sight much of the way.

The guys did make it to the top of the mountain where they signed a book at the ranger station, saw a mountain goat and enjoyed breathtaking scenery. They took some great pictures and read about the soldiers who used the lodge at the beginning of the century before the National Park Service had rangers to watch over the park. I'm a little sorry I missed it, but then again, I'd have missed the front view of that grizzly if I had stayed on the trail with them.

Besides, my feet were plenty sore from a halfway hike anyway.


  1. WHOA! That's super exciting...and, yea, heart-thumping. Grizzly bears are so scary. And majestic. And mean.

    So glad you had Yellowstone time!

  2. Truly amazing when you see one of those. Bears just wandering around like they own the place or something. Glad you were in the truck and the rest were aware. This story will be in your family for a very long time.

  3. That sounds like the best kind of adventure --close enough to very real, but not turning out to be a problem!

  4. I was disappointed for you until I got to the part about the bear! How exciting! (Of course, I only say it's exciting because you had a truck to scurry into. Otherwise, it would be called terrifying.)
    Glad you had a great trip, that you are feeling better, and the laundry is done.
    Happy birthday Mr. G!

  5. Oh wow! I'm glad you didn't end up having a close encounter on the trail with that grizzly, and that Mr. T and Mr. D got back ok!

  6. Whew! That will be something to remember!

  7. Wow! I'm glad for the pictures but I admit to not being sorry about missing the close encounter with a grizzly. Yikes!
    My husband and youngest son are going to hike Mt. Adams (about 12,000 feet) in a few weeks. I tried it 26 years ago and was DONE at 9,500 feet, so I hope the 15yo makes it.

  8. We've had some close encounters with black bears up at Shenandoah National Park, but that grizzly is easily twice the size of the bears we've seen. How cool!

  9. That's a story they'll hold for their own grandkids!

  10. I'm from Australia and people are always asking, 'Australia! Snakes! Spiders! Snakes! Snakes! Spiders!' But many years ago my partner and I got to spend a couple of months camping around those parts and I was terrified of bears. We didn't say much wildlife because we were too busy stamping our boots and clapping our hands through every hike. Beautiful, gorgeous, amazing landscape though.


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