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 > Yellowstone ~ Everyone remembers their first time . . Trip Report, that is

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seldomseensmith

Flagstaff, AZ

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Posted: 11/17/10 06:05pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

bka0721,

I never knew what I was missing until you blessed us with your heretofore unseen talents. Your photography is beautiful in composition and color, the subject matter is riveting, and the narrative is comparably informative and entertaining.

I am glad you took the time to open up your portfolio of wonderful sights for us to see. Hopefully there will be much more - it sounds like you get around a lot (for a first timer!)

Eric


The Road Goes Ever On



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Nemo667

Louisiana

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Posted: 11/17/10 06:36pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Fantastic report and pictures. Dont wait so long next time...[emoticon]


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Windwalker55

Missouri

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Posted: 11/17/10 07:43pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great trip report and beautiful photos. Excellent job. I just love the Tetons and Yellowstone. You made me want to go back next summer.
Thanks for all the work.
Larry


2007 Kodiak 160 Hybrid
"The mountains are calling and I must go." John Muir
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bka0721

Republic of Colorado

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Posted: 11/17/10 11:38pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Each season, I return during September, which continues to be my favorite time in Yellowstone. For many years, our family was governed by school schedules so we pegged our trips around the annual Perseids Meteor Shower, which by far is best seen at a higher altitude and away from manmade light pollution. But, the other side of those phenomena is the glaring light of a Full Moon. This year was my year to paddle during a full moon and three nights found me out doing just that. While out on this backcountry Yellowstone Lake, it being a short distance that I could carry my kayak in, with a permit to do so. Right at midnight I paddled the length of shoreline, watching two dark wolves hesitantly come in, catching a drink, watching and would have to be wondering what I might possibly be. For me, it was just me silently gliding across the reflective surface. One can’t begin to share what it is to listen to the operatic concerto of a Bull Elk bugling its heart out. He performed this solo concert nonstop, for many nights. I was caught up with just the cacophony of night sounds and just the feel of the water passing beneath me. With each stroke, my paddle gently plied the dark water; moon beams fractured the beads of water as they were falling back to the lake’s glass smooth surface. Then only to be repeated many more times, those three nights. If you have not paddled a kayak, on a cold fall night in the light of a full moon, you should. It is nights like these, that reaffirms why so many spiritual stories are part of the Native Indian axiom, such as the Ute’s and Shoshone Bannocks.

I spent twelve nights at my mountain lake, West of Canyon in Yellowstone. What I didn’t know, at the beginning was that this summer I would be sharing the lake with more than just people. My first day in, I was a few minutes in from my truck when I looked up, got to get out of the habit of looking down when I am hiking, and there on the trail was a large Grizzly Bear. I stopped; knowing that the thirty to forty yards separating us, was a good buffer. I slowly started backing up and could see the Grizzly continued to watch, but not approach. I backed around a snag, beside the trail and turned and hiked, quickly, back the ¾ mile to my truck and camper. No sign of the bear following me. I have had bear encounters on trails before and they have all been a good outcome. Within fifteen minutes of my return to my camper, I was outside, still thinking of my encounter when I saw the Grizzly again, walking across the short wooden bridge to the trailhead where I was parked. It was the beginning of twilight with moderate traffic going by. Grabbing a moment I retrieved my camera, just inside the door of the camper, not realizing I had left the door wide open as I left. Numerous cars were now parked everywhere as a phenomenon known as a “bear jam” began in earnest. With my polarizer filter and long lens, cars stopping in front of me, the three pictures were just a blur as was the moment. I walked back to the truck, after the Bear, exited the chaos down the opposite embankment and then saw that my dog was transfixed in the open doorway, frozen in place, silent, as he seemed to process what he had just seen too.

The next morning I was out in my Kayak, looking for any wildlife;

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When I rounded one of the coves and came within twenty yards of a Grizzly Sow and yearling cub. She reacted just as I did, surprised. I stopped paddling, slowly reaching for my small camera in my PFD, front glass case pocket. My drift’ was slowly closing the distance between us, but not as fast as she was now closing this distance. She “stiffed legged” to the water’s edge and I pulled up the camera as my right foot, grabbed for the rudder pedal. My finger tripped the shutter release and . . . crap! The low level light sensor sent a flash towards her. Her response was a predictable foreleg stomping and lucky for me, no more forward advancement. My paddle, lying across my beam, somehow returned to my free left hand and silently broke the water as I realized she could have covered the distance, between us, much faster than I could have fled. Yep, wake up and know your environment . . .

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For four more days, I continued to see the Grizzly Sow and Cub, in the area and trails. Each morning I would see her grubbing in the numerous fallen logs, along the shoreline and I did better at keeping my distance, observing and photographing other interesting things.

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The episodes were not to end. My second night in, at the camp known as the North Camp, I was in my tent, camper and truck 2 miles away at the trailhead and my midnight paddle, just a memory as I listened to the second night of Bugling by the irrepressible loneliness’ of this large Bull Elk. Waking up, just after three in the morning, the Bugling was different, less urgent and then a crashing sound of the Bull Elk, running through the wind throw of the trees from the 88’ burn. I waited and waited and didn’t hear anymore. Just like anyone in my position, the call of nature was stronger and I pulled myself out of my warm down bag, into the sub freezing air. I am always happy at times like this that I have my boots already ready for an exit, which is my long time habit in the backcountry. Boots at the head, near the door, tongue pulled up and out, laces pulled up and tied, open enough to allow my socked foot to quickly enter the boot/s without fumbling for the laces or boots. I stooped through the opening, grabbing the headlamp, even though I thoroughly detest their use in the woods in the night, as they destroy night vision and limit the bubble for which you exist. I walked about two hundred feet down the trail, to a tree and started what I came out there for. Almost immediately, I heard before I saw, I smelled a smell I knew what it was before I saw, there on the trail, to my left was a Grizzly, still thirty yards away. I don’t have to tell you every shut down and I started talking loudly, pulling the headlamp out of my sweat pants pocket, turning it on, then to strobe. The Bear froze; I retraced my steps back to the tent, not seeing any approach or sound of the Bear. I pulled my “go” bag (In Bear Country I always have my day pack packed ready for any moment, that I need to go), pulled my Jeans on, stuck the SW 686 L Frame on, pulled my Bear Bell loose on the side of my pack and removed the magnet to allow it to sing’. I cut across the woods to regain the trail again and hiked out to the Truck and Camper while singing show tunes and reliving, in my mind, Jack Olson’s version of a night like this. Making the truck, I spent the night. Call me scared, I call myself prudent. (All my domestic duties were/are performed at my truck and camper. My tent was nothing but a vehicle to sleep out in the woods and listen to the night sounds, so there were no foodstuffs or toothpaste in the tent.)

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One of road patrol rangers came by that morning, and stopped to talk. I shared my previous day and night. Soon, placards with Bear Warnings were posted and he gave me the option of staying or going. I stayed, but loaded up my pack, 686, Bell ringing and headed up to Wolf Lake, for the next two nights. Beautiful lake and well liked by the fly fishing groups. I don’t fish, but keep thinking I should start again.

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After returning from my brief two night backpack trip to Wolf and Grebe Lake, I spent the remaining two weeks hiking and exploring many other trails to the Bechler and lakes like Shoshone (geyser basin), Cygnet, Riddle, Mary and Grizzly Lake (appropriately named, but the only sign of any were scat and tracks).

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It is always humbling to have your boot prints, on the way in to Grizzly Lake, with a large and old Grizzly Bear’s track on top of them. I have seen a bear following me, on a trail before, when I was on an upper switch back trail, so it is always a wake up clue that we are never alone in the park, even when hiking solo.

[image]



I was never was one of the people that claimed that Yellowstone was burning down in 1988, as I had spent so many years in the backcountry witnessing the success of so many previous burns. But, there are still areas that still resemble an asphalt parking lot, with such a total burning of the earth. The burned forests are slowly recovering, some areas faster than others.

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One of my favorite things to do is to find the details around me. These Dime Sized flowers and smaller creatures that is so wonderful to just to take a moment, stop and look. With two recent snowfalls, the fall colors were knocked off and the freezes were getting the final blooms of the season. But if you looked just right, you could find some lingerers.

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* This post was edited 11/29/10 11:16am by bka0721 *

Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli

Seattle

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Posted: 11/18/10 01:25am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The second round is as good as the first. A mother grizley and cub is nothing to stumble across. But then, how would you ever have had such an exciting memorable experience! Nice follow up. Hope the rest of the readers check back to catch it.


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silversand

Montreal

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Posted: 11/18/10 04:24am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Bryan:

For a first-time Trip Report(s), I'll give you an A+ !

Exceptionally well done. You have demonstrated originality, detail, and a knowledge of the narrative far beyond average.

Your report(s) are slated to go into Trip Reports in ~ 2-weeks.

Sincerely,
Silver-


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weymard

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Posted: 11/18/10 04:45am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

great report ! Thanks for sharing


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Davis_clan

Edmonton, AB

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Posted: 11/18/10 08:35am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wonderful follow-up. We love going out near the "end of the season" more than the peak season for those reasons too. Less people, cooler nights, more active wildlife, changing environment, less insects to deal with [emoticon].

I love taking macro shots too. Capturing details missed. Having connections for select tech items I've been lucky, however if you ever get the chance you should try to watch the night sky and meteor showers with a set of Night Vision. It's spectacular.

Again, great read! Kudos

Bleugoat

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Posted: 11/18/10 08:39am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great pictures and great narrative - Just WOW!


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Less Stuff

WA. USA

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Posted: 11/18/10 09:52am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow bka0721 you are setting a very high standard for trip reports. Second installment even better than the first.

Watching mother nature recover from fires and volcanic eruptions is fascinating.
We humans have short time references so I sometimes long for the forest before the fire or eruption.
But mother nature has a very long time frame and seems to do fine with or without our help.

Please feel free to post a trip report Anytime the sprit moves you!!!!!


DG
Former user name: "Lots of Stuff"
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