Yellowstone - The Disneyland of the outdoors, and the most biologically and geographically diverse place in North America. A place where you can see a tourist try and pet a buffalo while taking a selfie, and hike 8 miles to watch coyotes hunt a ground squirrels at dusk all in the same day.
Once you get to Yellowstone, you will realize very quickly that the place can get extremely overcrowded. The geysers, the canyon lands and the certain places on the lake seem to attract huge crowds of people all the time. For someone coming to Yellowstone looking to get out into nature, this can be a huge letdown. Even hiking 4-5 miles out on trails you seem to always be running into other hikers. It took me about a day, but I figured out a foolproof plan to avoid all the troubles that are other humans. The Plan: Hike out around 3-4 miles out on a trail look for other humans on the trail, and simply walk in the opposite direction into the wilderness.
Sometimes the best trails are the ones that don't exist. Sometimes they also lead to grizzly bears, such is life. The first time I tried this great plan of mine, it lead me into wandering into a valley somewhere around the Cascade Lake. While walking around I had a funny thought. If I had to design a natural habitat for a grizzly bear in a zoo, it would look exactly like the area I found myself in. There was a large stream running through the middle of a relatively open field surrounded by a huge pine forest. While I started walking further and further into this lovely Grizzly Bear exhibit, I started to get an odd uneasy feeling. Now I'm not a superstitious person, but when I am all alone in the middle of bear country I tend to try and not get eaten alive. Therefor I decided to retrace my steps back and head on up the ridge line so that I could have a view of the valley below. Once at the top of the ridge, I decided to take a break and watch the valley I'd just left. It was around that time I saw what appeared to be a small brown car walking through the valley. It turns out that instead of a small brown car, it was actually a fully grown Grizzly Bear. After that, I nope'd right on out of that area.
Here's some photos of the area and the small brown car also known as a Grizzly.
Once out, I decided to "enhance" my plan a tad bit. One of the things that your supposed to do when hiking in bear country is always be making a decent amount of noise. This lets the bears know your there, and also has the side benefit of really letting you test out your singing voice. Going forward, every time I would come across bear tracks, I gave a STIRRING rendition of Country Roads by John Denver. This video's a pretty accurate representation.
Now that my Plan™ was complete, the rest of the hikes and exploration went about as well as expected. Of all the things that aren't great about Yellowstone ( people, tourists trying to pet wildlife, traffic) the park outside of the everyday spots is a once in a lifetime place to hike through. The rest of my time in Yellowstone was spent wandering through the Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley sections of the park, and they did not disappoint. The amount of wildlife and landscapes included in the area is amazing. I did everything from staring down a lone male Bison that I accidentally got with 10 feet of by climbing the wrong ridgeline, to finding fresh mountain lion tracks OVER my own boot prints as I was headed back the way I had came.
All in all, Yellowstone is something that you really have to experience. The sheer size and nature of the place makes it one of those experiences that really puts things into perspective.
John Muir once said, " Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt."
I would like to have a slight update.
"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them have bears."