"There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Grizzly and I

I'm sitting here looking out my window with a belly full of oatmeal raisin cookies watching it snow....and snow.....and snow. The only roads opened today for visitor travel was from West Yellowstone to Madison to Old Faithful.......and from Gardiner to Cooke City. It has snowed nonstop and the winds have been gusty. We are in another Winter Weather Advisory until 6:00 pm Friday with up to 12+ inches of snow forecast.

Looking at some dwindling milk supplies in the EDR and realizing that with road closures and the extended forecast calling for snow it was decided that I would head into Gardiner this morning to pick up some items. I collected a list of needs from people and went out to my car. The cars in the parking lot looked like huge white turtles with the snow piled on and around them. Mark came and actually had to use a shovel to get the mounds of snow off my car and then compacted the huge hunks of snow behind it that was left from the 1 lane of plowing done through the parking lot.

Using my driving abilities learned from driving Highway 10 across Minnesota to Fargo in the winter (anyone who has done this knows that sometimes nerves of steel are required) and with my handy All-Wheel Drive Equinox (finally getting a chance to try it out on real snow) I headed out from Canyon across to Norris then north to Mammoth. To be honest, I've driven in worse but I understand why the roads were closed to visitors.

So I'm heading north and right by Obsidian Creek I see something brown approaching the road. It's a grizzly!! I came to a stop as it lumbered onto the road, headed right to the center line and then watched as it continued right down the middle of the road! Then it turned around came back toward me and stopped at a tree right outside my car window where it spent some time sniffing and scratching. Of course I was snapping photos the whole time, except for the moment I stopped to make sure I actually had my SD card in my camera (I did!). After awhile I decided I should move on and I moved forward about 40 feet when I saw in my mirror that the grizzly was on its hind feet scratching its back on the tree. I stopped and took a few photos of that, too. 3.3 million people come to Yellowstone with hopes of having that very experience - and here I was experiencing it quietly by myself from the safety of my vehicle. It was incredible and I will post the pictures on Sunday night.

I made it to Mammoth and back to Canyon safely. On my way back I saw that the conditions were deteriorating. We had a total of 5 transactions all day, 2 of which were from the same park service employee who needed another Mt. Dew. I wonder what new adventures tomorrow will bring. Probably an adventure that involves snow.