A is for Animals
The animals have been hiding so far. Yellowstone is known for it’s wild animal viewing but so far I’ve only seen one lonely bison. The thermal features are impressive enough that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. It’s about 3:30 in the afternoon so I thought I should stop my exploring here and start back to Jackson.
B is for Bears
Lots of signs along the way remind you that you’re in bear country. My Gaperguide repeatedly suggests bear spray when hiking and not to hike alone. Even so, I’d not seen any sign of bears so far. That was about to change. I’d just entered Grand Teton National Park when as I approached one of the many bridges that cross the streams and rivers I saw cars lined up along both sides of the road. I had no idea what they were stopped for but I stopped too. Grabbing my camera I quickly headed over to the edge of the crowd. I didn’t have to ask what it was. Right there in plain sight was a Mama Bear and 2 cubs. Big Mama looked black in the afternoon light but one of the other spectators quickly pointed out the hump that identified this bear as a grizzly.
Mama and cubs paid no attention to their audience as they ambled off to the nearby woods. As the spectators headed back to the cars I overheard one bear watcher say that this was bear 399. Bear 399 was made famous in the book Grizzlies of Pilgrim Creek, a book by photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen and writer Todd Wilkinson. Mama 399 is now 21 years old which is quite old by wild grizzly standards and even more rare that she is still breeding.
Long Lived and Well Loved
“Every year that 399 has remained alive, raising successive broods of cubs, staying out of trouble with people, has been for those of us who enjoy her presence a gift and a miracle.”
In her two decades of life, 399 has given birth to three sets of triplets, one set of fraternal twins, and two single cubs. Her daughter, identified as 610 by researchers, has also raised four cubs of her own; 17 total cubs descended from 399: 18 total bears if you count her. Pretty Awesome!