Yellowstone - 2020!
One of the benefits of the COVID pandemic is reduced crowds at some of our nation's natural wonders. We wanted to fit in a trip to Yellowstone with our kids prior to the arrival of #3 a few weeks ago and of course we sported our wool hoodies the entire time. When traveling and doing a lot of outdoor activities versatile clothing is a must and these hoodies kept the kids warm but not sweaty. A perfect combination for the young outside adventurer who is constantly on the move and who falls asleep soundly when getting back in the car seat to head to the next stop.
Another must have for a kid's adventure is a personal travel pack. I usually let them pack their own backpack so they contain things such as rocks, a stray sock and mitten, the favorite stuffed animal, and the occasional year old graham cracker.
This was a typical road trip - very, very early morning driving to get as many road miles in before the kids wake up and are ready for breakfast. An unplanned snow storm and road closure on Bear Tooth Pass resulting in a several hour long detour making a long day much longer. And the unforeseen disaster that we now have come to expect on every trip.. this time it was a close call with a grizzly.
We were staying at the Old Faithful Lodge and decided to take a very late evening stroll around the geyser basin prior to getting the kids to bed. We were about a mile from the lodge when our youngest decided to protest a sincere action by her parents to keep her from falling off the boardwalk and into some hot geyser water. Her screech may have been interpreted as the sound of a dyeing animal... i'm not sure, but as I lifted her into my arms and looked up a grizzly was dashing out of the trees straight towards us!
Retracing our steps at the location of the bear encounter the next day.
I wish I could say I was filled with heroic courage, but what filled me was pure terror. With a child in one arm and my wife (pregnant) and 4 year old at my side we began a swift retreat trying not to run and present an ideal "chase" scenario with the grizzly. In a few seconds the distance between has was cut in half. As the grizzly hopped onto the boardwalk and started crossing the bridge towards us we began our decent down a slight hill and we lost sight of each other. Out of sight we moved speedily back towards the lodge, our hearts exploding in our chests. There was a large bull bison just a few yards off the path of our retreat and in my mind I kept telling myself "just get past the bison, just get past the bison". My reasoning was that with a bear chasing us, a massive bison a few yards from the trail was going to cause one or the other to reconsider the situation. As we passed the bison we kept glancing over our shoulder but as darkness settled we never saw the bear come down the hill in pursuit. Perhaps it caught our scent more fully and realized we weren't a group of feeble animals or perhaps the presence of the large bull bison along the trail stopped its pursuit. Either way we were happy to get back to our lodging!
Our kids outside of the Old Faithfull Inn waiting for Old Faithful to erupt.
Needless to say - a trip to remember. Until the next one!