Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wilderness Experience and Safety Concerns

We spent a couple of days inside Yellowstone National Park, staying in a Pioneer Cabin at Lake Lodge. Beautiful country, with a fabulous 1920's lodge on pristine Yellowstone Lake, with snow-capped mountains forming a back drop. The interesting "drawback" was the lack of access to technology. No Internet, and no towers to receive or send cell phone signals. So we truly enjoyed a couple of days of no noise, no stress and no distraction...almost.

As I said, we stayed inside the national park. And the national park allows animals to roam free. And when they say "roam free," they mean it! Here is a photo taken from the doorway of our cabin as we prepared to go to breakfast one morning:
Yes, that's a bison passing through. Actually, it's the second bison to pass by the cabin across from ours...it took a minute to grab the camera for this shot! Bison truly go where they want, and you need to stay out of the way. Just a few weeks ago a teenage boy was thrown by one of these huge animals, after getting too close for this creature's comfort.

Other examples of why it's important to understand the power and might of naturally wild animals:

This bull elk was walking through a popular geyser area, and people were literally running around, pulling out cameras, walking in front and back of him....it's very important to give wild animals all the space they need. I took this shot from the car.Bison also roam these areas freely, and go where they want to, when they want to. In this case, they wanted to cross the road, so they did. In another instance, a buffalo was walking down the center stripe of the road, and really didn't like cars coming too close. A small red sports car almost got gored because the buffalo became agitated. Imagine the face of the driver of that car!




Then there's the elk who roam through the town of Mammoth Hot Springs. Flowers and tree trunks are wrapped with wire so they don't eat the foliage or bark. Again, these are wild animals and should be given a wide berth. And another free roaming creature is the moose. Though we haven't seen one in Yellowstone, the ones we encountered in Teton National Park were fascinating, and formidable. Particularly if they have a calf with them. We did hear comments suggesting that the cow will stay nearer to people if they have a calf, to protect them from bear, but we're not sure how true that is. We do know that moose are another huge animal, capable of charging and throwing someone if they feel threatened. Most national parks have a general rule of thumb about how far you should be from a wild animal within the parks. The minimum range is 50 yards from elk and 100 years from moose and bison. An interesting fact to keep in mind is that a bison can sprint at 30 mph with very little warning. Moose are also sprinters, we're told. Though I haven't mentioned bear, and have no photos to share, I think it's safe to say they are perhaps the most dangerous animal to encounter. There are both grizzly and brown bear in the area, both of which we've seen from a distance. The photo isn't worth the risk to personal safety.

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