Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day Two Hundred-seven, 090923 - Fishing Br, Yellowstone

Day Two Hundred-seven, Date Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Time in Saddle: 7:23
Distance for the Day: 58.36 miles From Wapiti To Fishing Bridge, Yellowstone
Accumulated Trip Distance: 10,444 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 5497’/7662’, Highest: 8443’ Accumulated: 4400’
Speeds: Avg: 7.9 mph, Max: 41.5 mph
Weather: 40° clear and warming to mid-80s
Expenditures: $11

I woke up at 6:30am, got up at 6:37am, broke down camp, and packed the trike. The Sun rose at 7am, temp 40 degs, not as cold as yesterday, sky totally clear except a few thin clouds right by the Sun. It would be good if I could find a bear-proof container that I could carry around – this animal food situation was becoming a problem – more the mice than the bears, at this point. I was ready to roll at 7:26am and continued the long, steady climb towards the east entrance to Yellowstone. Stopped at a mini mart from 8:30 – 8:50am west of Wapiti to get a breakfast of hot cocoa and couple of Danish; also got a couple more drinks ($7). I was bucking a pretty strong headwind of 10-20mph, but the guy in the store said the wind would die down a few more miles up the road, which it did, thankfully. The road grade was very light, but it still warmed me up, making me shed my layers as I climbed higher. At an interpretive display along the way up, I met and chatted with Herman M and Marnice W about my trip and theirs. We took pictures all around, and they took some video of me riding, too.

I made it to the east Yellowstone Nat’l Park entrance at 2:04pm, and showed them my Nat’l Parks yearly pass plus picture ID. I then stopped in some shade and ate lunch (2nd half of Subway sandwich, orange soda, and Fritos twisty BBQ chips). I talked with a fisherman guy about bears, and he said black bears will eat you if you play dead as it eats carrion, whereas a grizzly bear won’t eat you as it hunts live prey; a black bear may charge you but will usually stop or veer off if you hold your ground; a grizzly bear if you look them in the eye, they will attack and eat you. He’d been around bears a long time, and this was what he learned to be *generally* true. It’s always good to make noise when traveling; use bear-proof food containers whenever possible; it *can* be effective to put a tree between you and the bear; climbing trees or running won’t help; peeing around a campsite doesn’t really deter bears if they smell food and are hungry. There’s an old joke: What’s the difference between a black bear’s scat, and a grizzly’s scat? The black bear has berries and seeds in it, while the grizzly’s has little bells in it (making reference to the use of small bells on walking sticks, which may or may not be heard by bears). After eating lunch and reading info from the brochures I got at the entrance, I headed into the park, proper, at 2:52pm.
It was a surprisingly tough climb up and over from the east entrance to Fishing Bridge, taking several hours to traverse, but I made it. On the flat road following the northeast edge of Yellowstone Lake, I saw my first herd of bison just off the road, peacefully grazing in the grass between the road and the lake. They had been in the road, earlier – lucky for me, they weren’t there now, as it would have made the road impassable for me. I went into the RV park admin building to find out where I could go to camp, and got a big candy bar at the small store there, too ($4). Then I found out that: a) there’s no tent camping facilities here, and b) most of the other campsites in the entire park were closed for the season! The next closest open campsite was at Madison, only about 56 miles further west, on the other side of the park. And the Sun had just set. The people at the RV park called-in a Park Ranger, and when she arrived (Ranger Christine Donovan), said there was an open campground about 21 miles away. Okay, I would go for that one, but it would be night before I could make it there. I tried stopping at the store, and then the mini mart at Fishing Bridge, but they were both closed. Catching up to me, Ranger Donovan pulled up in her truck, and said that she’d made a mistake, and the campground she suggested was also closed, so we would have to figure out something else. We went back to the RV park, and she arranged with the staff there to let me stay (for free, even) (N44 33.832’ W110 22.115’), and I could put my foodstuff into the administration building overnight – how nice! So, that’s what I did. I kind of got the message, at this point, that bears are a very real concern around Yellowstone, and that stealth camping is *really* not a very good idea. I decided I would do what I had to, to avoid stealth camping while in Yellowstone. I gave Ranger Donovan my blog site, and she said she would check with her bear-knowledgeable people about the idea of using urine to mark your territory, and deter wildlife, including bears, from intruding on your space. I put all my food items in the building, set my tent up in amongst all the humongous mobile homes and RVs, and at about 8:30pm, was lulled to sleep by the yipping and high-pitched cries of coyotes off in the distance.


Christine D. said...

Did you get my email about the bear urine? Hope your trip is going well. Safe travels!

obi_donkenobi said...

Aha - Ranger Donovan! I didn't seem to get your email about using *human* urine to repel bears. Please do try sending it again. My address is My trip goes very well thus far: I am now with an old friend in Seattle, WA, and preparing for the last leg of my trip - south along the Pacific coastline from NW Washington State, back to San Francisco, CA.

Keep on keeping those bears in line in Yellowstone, now, ya hear?