I’ve been offline for the last several weeks. We hooked up our camper and headed east for my most favorite spot of all: Yellowstone National Park.
This giant park (3400 square miles) is last bastion of wilderness in the lower 48 of the United States. It is the home of grizzly bears and wolves, elk and mountain goats, bighorn sheep and pronghorn, and of course, bison.
We spent a week ‘dry’ camping-meaning no water, no electricity, and thank all the gods, no generators, in what is probably the best campground of all, Slough Creek.
Here’s our campsite. I’d just turned around to take this picture when a bison bull appeared out of the background and walked up to our camper, then passed within a few feet of my husband. He apparently liked our set up.
And here he is, (the bison) who meandered not five feet from the front of our camper and then settled down for a nap. I took this from the front of our camper.
While there, we had a sow black bear with two cubs come through the campground. Bison were there every day, and appeared completely oblivious to the humans in their midst. A pronghorn doe stayed close to the campground and fawned while we were there.
I met a most amazing young man who spent one night in the campground.
He is a Frenchman, named Jeremy Geumetz. 20 months ago, he started a journey in the southernmost end of Argentina and plans to continue until he reaches the northernmost end of Alaska. He is doing it on a bicycle.
His website is http://www.2rouesvagabondes.fr
His email is JGEUMETZ@yahoo.fr
It is completely in French, a language I do not speak, read or write.
I took his picture and sent them to his email address, but have no idea if he actually received it or not. I will include them here:
Such a nice young man. Check out his website, and those of you (I know there are several!) who read French will see some of his photos.
While in Yellowstone (in mid June) we had snow, rain, hail, sleet, shirt sleeve temperatures one day and a skin of ice on the windshield of the truck the next day.
I had planned, and even scheduled, a backcountry trail ride. But the day I was supposed to ride, it was cancelled, as a black bear with three cubs had killed a mule deer fawn right next to the corral, and they didn’t want to risk passing the bear. While the bears in Yellowstone are accustomed to humans, when one has cubs it is NEVER advisable to approach, feed or antagonize them.
That’s the problem with Yellowstone. One is constantly warned to never approach a bison or a bear-yet no one has told the bison or bears.
The above photo shows a man who, moments before, had stepped out of his tent, only to come face to face with a bison bull. He took cover behind the site’s bear box and the bison then approached the box-and then lay down for a nap. The man was trapped-a river runs right behind him. He was stuck there for a good half hour before the bison awoke and walked away.
Bear boxes are an absolute necessity in bear country. Bears like food, and if they smell it in your tent-they will rip it apart. Woe be unto you if you’re in the tent at the time.
The bear boxes are bear proof. You put ANYTHING that even remotely smells of food: your camp stove, coolers, etc, into the box.
Yellowstone belongs to the animals, and we are just visitors. It’s the most lovely place. I love it so.
The nice thing about Yellowstone is, if you obey the rules, and use common sense, you can get into some beautiful places and feel, just for a little while, what the Pleistocene was like, before we humans screwed it all up.
The most lovely place in all Yellowstone is the Lamar Valley. One can always see bison, elk, grizzlies, and sometimes wolves, in the Valley. We saw grizzly bears every day. We didn’t see wolves every day, as they’re fairly shy. But not a day in the Valley went by that we didn’t see a lot of wildlife.
On our last day in the Park, we noticed that the herds of bison had all crossed to the far side of the Lamar River. So I indulged myself in something I have always, always wanted to do-be a small and insignificant inhabitant of the Valley, just for a while.
I walked out to the river, and just sat there, absorbing it. For a few moments, I could feel what it must have been like to be just a part of the wilderness, not the destructive monster we have become, the one that has destroyed virtually every wild place on the planet.
My husband took my photo as I was embracing it. I kept going, but this is about half way to the river, which swings further out of the picture.
What a lovely place. I do love it so.