I just got back from JH (Jackson Hole, which in my terminology includes Grand Teton National Park & Yellowstone National Park and closely surrounding areas of infinite beauty, majesty and wonder).
While in GTNP we were lucky enough to see THREE bears! Two black bears and a Grizzly. Having visited the JH area virtually every year for the past 25 years I can attest that bear sightings are indeed rare (especially Grizzlies) and magical experiances. Getting to see even one on a trip is rare, but three? Unheard of! I think its a testament to the rapidly growing bear populations.
The first sighting was a mature black haired black bear that was swimming in a very small pond next to the road which runs by Jackson Lake Lodge. After swimming about 40 yards he exited the water, shook off like a dog and ran up and over the opposite hill.
The next bear was a Grizzly. Bear 399 to be precise, and she has evidently become the rock star of bears in the YNP-GTNP area. As we were told at the sighting by a park ranger, 399 had pushed off her three 3 year old cubs this spring and was believed to have mated with the largest male in the area. 399's star status was earned partly by her willingness to habit easily observable areas of GTNP inspite of caring for her 3 cubs at the time. The other reason for her notoriety was an incident last summer where she justifiably attacked a jogger. The jogger was not seriously hurt, and evidently the facts of the attack did not compel park rangers to move her to uninhabited areas. (We were delighted to read her cover story in Jackson Hole magazine the next day). We saw her in the morning on the way to YNP in a field by the main roadway. She was eating flowers and grass. Later that afternoon (about 9 hours later) she was in the SAME spot still eating.
My third encounter was a much closer and unexpected one. The Lovely Lisa (LL) and I had picked a spot to watch for Moose by some bushes by a pond covered with lily pads. After sitting down, LL lamented that she didnt have her book so I offered to walk back to the car (about 150 yds) to get it. As I was rumaging in the back of the car (sitting in a gravel parking spot) looking around for the book, a car pulled up by me to warn me to be careful around that bear. I turned to my right to look at them (thinking they were nuts) and they pointed out their window infront of them. I turned back to look over my left shoulder and there it was... a young cinnamon colored black bear (it appeared to be not much more than 200 lbs) about 15 yards from me. It had just crossed the road on his way for a swim in the pond. It had no doubt seen me before it decided to cross the road but didnt seem care a hoot that I was so close. As I fumbled for my camera, I called out to the LL to come quickly. Soon it disappeared into a thicket between the parking lot and the pond. The next we saw it, it was swimming across the pond and then exited the water (and like the other shook off like a dog) EXACTLY where Lisa and I had been! Evidently the scent of us there startled him, because he took off like he was on fire.
I hope to get some pics of these inspiring creatures and other pics of the area loaded soon.
(PICS OF ALL 3 NOW ON DISPLAY)