Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bears and Buffalo, oh my!

On my day off this week I went backwoods camping in Yellowstone with a couple of friends.  As soon as you get off the road and into the back country, the insane tourist mecca that is Yellowstone quickly turns into your own private wilderness.  Sounds like a good time, right?  Well pretty much...

We got to the ranger station to get orientated as to backwoods camping and how to be 'bear aware,' aka watch a video and listen to a ranger talk for a couple of minutes.  Our nice ranger friend put on the video, and then proceeded to turn the volume down a touch and talk to us during the video, saying, "We can multi-task, right?"  After all the rigamarole, he looked up a campsite for us, 3L1, in the Lamar valley off of Cache Creek, about 4 miles hike off the road.  Sounded perfect to us.  Then he proceeded to read the notes in the computer on the site-"Warning-aggressive buffalo; 6/17 bear charged campsite."
He then went on to say that we "would see a bear" when we questioned him further.  Apparently that spot was in prime bear territory.

With that in mind, we hiked in under a beautiful Wyoming sun and set up camp next to cache creek, making a friend we named George along the way, a buck pronghorn antelope.  He chilled about 15 feet off the trail as we filed by.
I was super excited to break in my new Big Agnes Jack Rabbit tent, and it performed admirably under the  beating sun and sea of stars.  Maybe next time the elements will test it a little more.
Dinner was red beans and rice combined with mac'n'cheese, which was actually really good, especially after a long day of hiking.  Our campsite was along a roaring creek-everywhere out here has had around 150% of its yearly rainfall already-and there were a ton of sheds people had collected and left there from over the years.  Some pretty impressive stuff.
At night we were extra "bear aware" and hung all the clothes we cooked in, along with our food and packs.  After enjoying a nice, cozy fire and admiring the sea of stars above us, we swept the area for bears with our flashlights and hit the sack.  Turns out the bear never showed and the buffalo were nonexistent, which is OK with me.

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