Friday, June 08, 2007

Fawn Pass Trail, YNP

Another trail report from Yellowstone Park.

On May 30th, I drove to the set of trailheads at the end of Swan Lake Flats, just before heading down into Mammoth. Several trails branch from this site on both sides of the road. I was surprised there were only a few cars in the parking area, usually this is nearly full by the time I got there, about 9 am. Maybe because the weather was spitting snow intermittently fewer people were hiking. I hiked across the flats until I came to the trail junction and then turned south to go on the Fawn Pass trail. So far the trail was relatively flat and completely open. Now I went through patches of trees and climbed harder. I found climbing exhausting, I'm not in great shape and not used to the altitude. Most of my hiking is done between 2 and 6 thousand feet and I was now above 7000 feet. About halfway up the hill before going into the Gardiner River, I saw a cow moose about 100 feet away, facing me. I continued rather warily, she probably had a calf nearby and might be aggressive. Just as I was nearing the top of the hill, I was something moving on the hill to the northwest. I stopped and used my monocular and could see that two bears were moving about on the open hillside. I found a place to watch them for a few minutes and satisfied myself it was a grizzly sow and cub. They were far enough away I wasn't too worried about them, maybe 350 yards distant. In the picture above, the sow can be seen as a small black dot between clumps of trees near the top middle. Obviously I don't have a zoom lens.

The sow was apparently digging roots and the cub was moving around somewhat randomly. After a few minutes, the sow abruptly stood on her haunches looking in my direction, then the cub ran into the nearby trees, soon followed by the sow. I was surprised and my first thought was that a male grizzly was in the area. After thinking about that for a bit, I decided I didn't want to continue on that trail and started down again. After I made my way down the trail a bit, I stopped and looked at the area where I had seen the bears. Soon, 3 hikers came over the crest of the hill which is probably what the grizzly had smelled or heard. At that point I wished I had continued up but decided not to go back. These were the only other hikers I saw during this hike.

I've seen grizzly bears in this area 3 or 4 times previously and I was very aware that I could meet one. I've also seen grizzly tracks many more times. This was for me a nearly perfect way to see a grizzly, at a sufficient distance but close enough I could watch for a while. And I liked most that I was hiking not sitting in my car.



At 19/8/07 11:18, Anonymous TravelingMel said...

This is also a great place to cross-country or backcountry ski!

At 6/1/10 12:01, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!


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