Simple Gifts

I believe I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world; the Snoqualmie Valley. I get to see amazing things everyday. It's time to celebrate that. (You can view pictures in larger format by clicking on them)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bears at Yellowstone

When we arrive at the campground in Yellowstone I was called to identify some droppings. (I did mention I became the "poop expert") At first I didn't think it could be bear even though it was rather large because it wasn't in a neat pile. The bears around my home tend to poop in the middle of the road and it's in a pile. I realized that a bear running would leave a pile like the one in the camp ground. We found out from a ranger that there was a bear regularly visiting the camp and the rangers were quite concerned about bear/human safety.

We didn't want to attract the bears to our camp but we did want to seem them. Three days after we arrived in Yellowstone we'd fallen into the routine - load into the car, watch for wildlife while driving, visit some geysers and explore. We were heading back to camp when we saw a lot of cars parked and people watching.... something. We hadn't seen crowds like this so we knew it must be something impressive. Sure enough it was a grizzly. (Renae got good pictures, I'm hoping she'll send me one). We watched for quite some time. The best part came after he moved a bit further back in the woods. He found a power pole (we weren't far from Canyon Village). First he laid down and rolled around on his back. Then he stood up on his hind legs, rubbing his back against the pole. It was great.

On our last full day there we took a nice hike. We had my bear bells on Tasha's pack. It's amazing how much fun and noise an almost-nine year old can make with a bell. I hike alone (well, with Coal) all the time. I know there are bears, but it felt different in Yellowstone. We sure don't have grizzly at home. As much time as I spend outdoors I rarely encounter bear sign, much less bears, but at Yellowstone it was impossible to miss. I noticed a tree with huge claw marks in it. Later Renae discovered bear tracks. They were on the same path we were walking. We tried not to walk on them. I had Renae stick her foot beside to give a sense of the size. They are such big animals!

The last day I made a promise with myself that I wouldn't hurry. I think the USA has a culture of hurry. All too often I get drawn into that and even when the journey is the point I race towards some artificial destination. My plan was to stop as often as needed; to look and experience. It was an amazing day. I said goodbye to my friends and I'd barely been on the road when I encountered the wolves. Then I continued north. Once again I saw the cars parked (many blocking the road) everywhere. Out in the meadow was a Grizzly grazing. It was off in the distance. I sat on the edge of the road and watched for quite a while. The grizzly seemed slow and gentle. It was funny how watching the grizzly didn't seem frightening at all, but the day before when we'd been hiking in the midst of all the bear signs it had made us uneasy. The bear was slowly working towards us and once again I was stuck by the size. I got a behind the scenes tour at Northwest Trek once. I will never get how suddenly fast a bear can move. I was about ready to retreat back to my car when the Ranger came along proclaiming "If you are not in your vehicle, return there immediately." I didn't need to be told twice. I got back into the car and drove less then 5 minutes when I came upon the two black bear (one is cinnamon colored). They kept close together and I assume they were related. Unlike the Grizzly that seemed to like the open meadow, the bears were in a wetland of a forest. A ranger kept moving people away, for the bears peace and comfort. I felt so fortunate to get to watch these big and mostly gentle animals.

Grizzly in the meadow on my last day

The cinnamon colored black bear was much larger then the black one

They never showed any aggression towards each other

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