Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Creature encounters in Yellowstone
Besides the beautiful landscape Yellowstone offers wildlife viewing to its visitors. For sure you will see the American bison, but we also got to see brown and black bears (for very short periods of time or from very far), elk, coyotes, squirrels, chipmunks, prong horn antelope, etc. I have no good pictures of the wildlife but I do have a good story. So here is my guest blogger, my husband, relating a "little" incident we experienced. Hope you enjoy it!
So, we were vacationing in Yellowstone NP last week. It is simply an amazing place. There aren't many places left in the world where you can stand on a mountain top and view a spectacular landscape as far as the eye can see in every direction that hasn't changed in ten thousand years. If you are into the outdoors at all, its a place you should try to visit.
Anyway, we're staying in a cabin outside the NE gate, hiking everyday and crashing in blissful exhaustion every night. Half way through the week, I wake up at 3:00 AM to noises outside the cabin. There is an animal outside the window next to the head of my bed. A BIG animal. Grunting and growling. No problem, it is outside and we are in here. Nothing to worry about. Except now in addition to the grunting and growling I hear sniffing and scraping at the window. I try to sneak a peak through the window but all I can see is a BIG shadow lurking next to the window. Ok, let's assess the situation. It's the middle of the night and a large animal is sniffing at the window. It's most likely a bear. Based on the size of the shadow, its probably a grizzly bear. And it is separated from us and a cabin full of left over dinners and snacks (we haven't exactly been following "clean-camp" rules in the cabin) by a mosquito screen and sheet of double pane glass. We have no phone in the cabin, cell phone coverage is non-existant, I have no bear repellant spray, and the cabin offices are a 100 yards down the road. Ok, I'm feeling a bit anxious now. If the bear come through the window should we bolt out the door? or out the other window? or lock ourselves in the bathroom? Hmm, how stong does that bathroom door look? Not very. Do we run for the car or the cabin offices? How fast can I get my family awake and out the door? Knowing my kids, probably not fast enough. Might lose one. Or two. That wouldn't be good, the wife wouldn't take it well. Hey, I can heat up some water in the microwave to throw at it, or maybe I should just throw the whole microwave. This is the way my brain works at 3:00 AM when I'm hyperventilating.
At this point the wife wakes up wondering what the hell is going on. I share with her my assessment of the situation and she supportingly decides to share my sense of panic. This goes on for a while, until my wife hears a second animal outside. A second bear? that doesn't make any sense. We then see a bison come walking out of the shadows toward the cabin while at the same time the beast who was in the shadows next to the window steps out into the moon light. It's a huge bull bison. If you have never heard the noises a bison make up close, let me tell you they sound an awful lot like the ones you would expect a bear to make. But then what the hell do I know about bear and bison sounds, I grew up in New Jersey. The second bison was soon followed by an entire herd, and soon our cabin was completely surrounded by bison grazing in the moonlight. I have no idea what the hell they were doing in our cabin grounds, ten miles outside the park, in the middle of the night. I read a lot about Yellowstone wildlife preparation for this trip, but I don't recall any mention of bison being nocturnal.
What's the moral of the story? Noises in the night aren't always what you think they are. And, always keep a microwave nearby. Just in case you need to throw it.
Next post about sewing...promise!