After landing in West Yellowstone, I jumped on my bike and rode to the backcountry ranger station. I wanted to hike more and drive less, so I chose a trail near Old Faithful. I love doing loops, so this was perfect. I got my permit and watched the education video, that actually, helped me a lot!
Next, I rode back to the airport and rented a car to get to the trail head. I packed my pack and was ready to go early. I wanted to be a tourist on my way to the trail.
That last photo…..yup. That was me. I’m the hiker. I saw a grizzly that same morning at the lake. It was running away from me and was far across the lake. Just the way you want to see a bear in the backcountry.
I was singing, and making noise on the trail…..and then came face to face with a juvenile. I thought about the training they gave me…..don’t run, back away. I did. The bear kept coming. I got out my spray, I kept backing away…..the bear kept coming. I sprayed, and then the bear went by.
My next thought was where’s the mom????? I skirted the trail for awhile, holding my spray in front. I hooted and called. After awhile, I stopped shaking and put my spray away. The rest of the hike was without excitement.
This is my 40th year anniversary of working in the Park. I was probably on a backpacking trip on the very same day in July 1982.
Never have I encountered a bear on the trail. In fact, I hiked 250 miles that summer, and never encountered a bear at all.
I LOVE Yellowstone. It’s a grounding place for me. Bear or no bear, I’ll be back again, for sure.