Close Encounter

Backpacking through the Absarokas can be quite the adventure as every turn can yield unexpected sights and wildlife. After a multi-day trip through the Absaroka National Forest and Yellowstone back country, I found myself following the Lamar River back to civilization. As I was rounding a bend in the trail I heard something come crashing through the trees about 40 feet away. I hid behind a nearby pine just as a Grizzly emerged from the trees to protect its fresh kill. Just as a side-note, bears are generally most dangerous to humans when protecting their cubs or when guarding a meal. The Grizzly sniffed the air and looked in my direction, but luckily couldn’t see me behind my pine tree. Knowing that something was nearby the Grizzly quickly half-buried the carcass and ran back into the trees. I waited for it to come back but didn’t see anything. As I started to leave, the bear came rushing back out of the trees and again began to sniff the air to find the source of the smell that over 10 days of backpacking produces! Luckily I was still behind my little tree and he couldn’t see me. Temporarily sidetracked by the fresh food the Grizzly started chowing down and I was able to photograph and observe him for nearly 25 minutes before he ripped off a large chunk of organs and disappeared into the woods.

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