Have you ever seen a mountain man?
I have now, but I will let you decide what he looked like. He was not someone you might come across in the grocery store, and definitely not a regular at the local barber shop. HIS first look was at our boots. No doubt, I was giving HIM the WHOLE look. He was certainly someone prepared to be in the back country for a bit, and we just happened to meet him in the right place at the right time. We were approaching Sentinel Meadows Trailhead, in Yellowstone when he stopped us.
The first words out of his mouth were: “You have the right shoes and you will be down wind; do you have optics?” I guess that means a larger lens.
I was completed amused that he would even THINK I would want to hike two miles out to see a Mama Grizzly and her cub feeding on a carcass.
From a car? Absolutely! Did he NOT know a grizzly can do a 50 yd. dash in 3 seconds!? Of course he did. He was a mountain man.
The he in my we was ready to go. I kept an open mind and one hand on the bear spray as we listened to our mountain man tell us EXACTY what to do.
First, we were to track his boot prints. Today was the first day the trail opened because of bear management. It was still snowy and muddy so they would be easy to see.
Second, he said: “You will come to a small herd of bison. Gingerly pass by, giving them space so they don’t become alarmed.” Hahaha. Alarm THEM?!
Third, we were to continue to follow his tracks up a ridge where we could watch the bears. We did it! He was right! We spent 40 minutes on the ridge watching mama teach the cub it’s first lessons in hunting and then made sure the cub didn’t venture too far away. Eventually, the bears got on the trail about a half mile away. My fearless protector turned around to say maybe we should head back, only to discover I was on a full trot about 100 yards ahead.
I am who I am.
Thanks to someone more knowledgeable then us, we were able to experience a real life story of a grizzly and her cub. I am sure we will never see the mountain man again, and yet, I feel so indebted to him. I guess his message must be; to live and love nature, and remember to pass it on. We did, and do, EXACTLY that.
Always inspired…by people we meet along the way.
Still humbled by this beautiful place we call home. Cheers!
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