Monday, August 11, 2008
The Start of an Adventure. . .
As promised, I shall begin the tale of my most recent adventures that have transpired over the summer of 2008. As many of you are aware, it began with a trip through Nevada into Utah where I visited various relatives and friends, the highlight being my stay with my 100 year old grandmother. I've already posted a blog on my backcountry adventures in Central Utah and I shall pick up with my departing from the Utah on my spontaneous roadtrip through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and down the California coast. . . over a series of blogs, of course. . .
It was late in the afternoon, or rather early evening when I finally finished packing up all of my belongings and said goodbye to my relatives and friends in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was hoping to drive to Pinedale, Wyoming and do some camping in the Wind River mountains (it has been some 13 years since I served as a missionary in that little town nestled at the foot of that beautiful mountain range). Unfortunately, I was pressed for time as I had to be back in California by the end of July in order to go on a high adventure trip with the boy scouts (I volunteer as a scout master for a local troop). Needless to say, I skipped Pinedale and went straight for Star Valley, Wyoming. I arrived late and having no place to stay and no campgrounds in sight, I found a road that looked like nobody would be traveling on during the night, pulled off on the side, threw down my sleeping bag and slept under the stars. It was amazing! I don't believe that anyone could possibly see more stars then from this location--it was truly breathtaking. I could hear some cows nearby lowing throughout the night and was awoken by the sound of a tractor sometime around 4 a.m. I packed up and headed for the Grand Tetons National Park, arriving around dawn.
I saw a huge bull elk as I was driving--it ran right in front of me on the road, but I was unable to get my camera out before it ran off over the hillside. It was truly a majestic animal. I did find a nice little area where there was a hiking trail, a river and a lake at the base of the Tetons. It was truly beautiful and I began walking around and photographing the scene.
As I did so, I suddenly heard a loud cracking sound from across the river. It was a familiar sound--the exact sound that I had heard the night I was alone in the backcountry worrying about a mountain lion or bear or something big within the dark. I decided that I wanted to see what made such a sound, so I began following the noise in the brush across the way. Suddenly it appeared--a light tan color flashing between the leaves of the bushes. And then it came into view--it was a bear! I saw it walk down to the water's edge and slip itself into the river, swimming across to my side of the river. Recognizing this a chance of a lifetime to get some good bear pictures, I snapped a few photos then ran over to where the bear was swimming in order to get some more photos at a closer range.
It came out of the river about 20 feet from where I stood. I watched it as it crossed the trail and began to forage for food, grabbing an old log with its paws and systematically tearing it apart in search of some grubs to eat. It displayed its power as it tore the log to pieces--its brute strength was an amazing thing to behold! It is no wonder why man would not want to face such a beast as it would easily crush, tear, and dismantle a human body.
I never felt any danger as I stood near the bear, taking photographs. I maintained a safe distance, though, if the bear really wanted to it could have easily run me down and done its bidding. I was in awe of such a beautiful creature. I later saw a second bear which was a bit bigger. The two seemed to be foraging together--I attempted to follow for a short way, but this bear seemed less inclined to have an intruder present, so I backed off without getting a good shot and continued on my way to Yellowstone National Park. . .
I'll write of Yellowstone in my next blog. . . in the meantime, I hope that you enjoy the pictures from the Grand Tetons.