"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

Friday, June 10, 2011

One Step, Two Steps, Three Steps, Bear!

My life seeing bears continues.  I have to remind myself that there are very few jobs in the world where someone can be at work and spend the day peaking through the front window at a grizzly and black bears.  Thursday was an incredible bear day in Mammoth.  A grizzly took down an elk calf in Mammoth and drug the carcass up Capital Hill and then spent hours feasting on it.  The entire YGS staff at Mammoth spent the day peering up the hill at the grizzly.  If that wasn't enough a black bear ran in front of the store and up the hill to the west of the store.  Mammoth was buzzing with visitors and rangers as they kept track of where the bears were.  And again this morning a bear ran through Mammoth.  I repeat:  I cannot not see a bear.

At the end of the day, with the grizzly still laying atop of Capital Hill, I left for Lake.  I could tell something was up the moment I pulled into my parking spot at the apartment there.  The apartment overlooks the horse corrals and  Yellowstone Lake.  People were lined up at the east side fence of the corrals and after a careful surveillance I saw what was drawing all the attention:  a grizzly.  It was roaming and digging in the corrals.  As I prepared dinner I would occasionally look out and watch the grizzly walk around inside the fencing.  I also had to remind myself that not everyone gets to live in an area where they can watch a grizzly as they prepare a salad.
Needless to say that this morning I was extra careful to survey the area as I left the apartment at 5:15.  I looked out the door and saw nothing.  I started down the boardwalk toward my car:  one step, two steps, three steps, bear!  Walking directly towards me, between myself and my car was a grizzly bear.  Between the early morning light, the brown of the garbage dumpster and the dirt and the darkness of the pavement I didn't even see it.  It was the movement that caught my eye.  With one giant Abraham Lincoln-sized step I was back in the doorI ran upstairs to get Patrick who followed my back downstairs to the door.  With the door having a full-length glass pane we were able to watch the grizzly saunter past peering inside the door at us.  After it passed Patrick stepped out and shouted at it and clapped his hands.  It lumbered off and I breathed a sigh of relief.  I have seen many many bears in the Park but this was my first experience seeing one outside the comfort of my vehicle or a building. 

Electric Peak
Though it hasn't warmed back into the 80's as it had the other day the sky has been mostly clear these past couple of days.  An occasional blanket of clouds may drift through but the blue skies and sun that we see for most of the day definitely  make up for the lower temps.  Dunraven Pass is now open as well as Beartooth Pass.  And life is much easier since Sylvan Pass has remained open during the daytime hours.  Snow may occasionally close the passes but it is moving in a positive direction.  There is still plenty of ice on portions of Yellowstone Lake but it is quickly disappearing.  I think that spring was skipped over in Yellowstone and we are heading from one long winter straight into summer.  I thoroughly enjoy my morning drives from Lake to Mammoth.  This morning was especially nice even though I started off the morning with a grizzly bear and a coating of ice on my windshield.  As the sun rose it showed a brilliant blue sky.  Electric Peak was gorgeous.  The long winter seems to be over.