9 August ~2012

Me and the dogs are having a rest day, spending all day alternating between wading/swimming in the Yellowstone River, lounging along the bank in the shade of junipers and pines, and sleeping in the truck.

Yesterday we came in from a backpack trip in the Madison Range, five miles from a one room cabin in a gorgeous setting. I am sure grateful to however came upon that spot and decided it would be perfect for a forest service cabin.

For some reason I thought the area around the cabin would be dry - maybe because of the low elevation compared to Colorado. Instead I found that you go through large expanses of wildflowers on the pass. Green meadows and wildflowers mixed with Spruce and Fir continue on down into the valley where the cabin sits,with an awesome view of the peaks of the Hilgard Range out the front window.

I enjoyed reading the log entries about the grizzlies that would show up at night, clawing on the side of the canyon, at times looking in the windows. This didn't happen a long time ago - just in the last few years. Last September the Forest Service reported that grizzlies were visiting the cabin every night. The cabin's three windows have bars over them, which are bolted all the way through the pine logs. I could see claw marks on the side of the cabin where the chimney is.

I was disappointed we didn't see any bears around the cabin and in our hikes over the pass to and from the cabin. It is classic grizzly country - a lot like Mount Washburn in Yellowstone, which isn't that far away.

Just knowing you are in grizzly habitat adds some excitement to the hike though. When we went through dense stands of Spruce up on the pass, I chose not to make noise, and scare any potential bears away. Instead I had my pepper spray at the ready, and watched the dog's reactions to anything they might smell.

A couple of times the dogs acted liked they scented something behind the cabin. More than once Hayley barked at a sound in the woods. That could have been our grizzly, and the commotion the dogs made at its presence keep it further out.

I will be back - maybe next time right before hunting season, when the bears are busy preparing for winter, and are moving around more.

It was a few days of paradise with complete solitude, and the wonderful companionship of my border collies. They all loved it up there too.


"Those who have packed far up into grizzly country know that the presence of even one grizzly on the land elevates the mountains, deepens the canyons, chills the winds, brightens the stars, darkens the forest, and quickens the pulse of all who enter it.

- John Murray