38 Years Ago Today ... Close Grizzly Bear Encounter in Wyoming's Teton Wild.


Wilderness Wanderer
Sep 23, 2016
Now it was 38 years ago today that I had my first close Grizzly Bear Encounter when I was hiking for the first time in the Teton Wilderness. This was back on July 31st, 1982. Back in 1982 the Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone and in NW Wyoming was not nearly so common as they are today. In fact one could hike all summer in Yellowstone and not even see a Grizzly Bear. I had hiked all summer of 1981 in Yellowstone, the Tetons, and the Wind Rivers with only seeing one Grizzly Bear very briefly.

Then here in 1982 I was back hiking in Yellowstone. This time in 1982, it was the first summer that I biked back to the Yellowstone's Thorofare and all over this Teton Wilderness and the SE part of Yellowstone NP. On this day I had my first dramatic Grizzly Bear (or should I say Grizzly Bears -plural) encounter. Of course as the years passed I had many more dramatic close encounters with the Great Bears. And today I trust them more then people it seems. But this day I had my first dramatic encounter.

I had started this hike from the Sheffield Creek Trailhead near Flagg Ranch right South of the South Entrance to Yellowstone Park. Had hiked over Huckleberry Mountain, in the Coulter Creek area, On top of Big Game Ridge, the Fox Park Area and the headwaters of the Snake River, and more. Now this day I was camped near Phelps Pass and the Continental Divide. I had decided to hike all day on top of the nearby Two Ocean Plateau, right on the boundary of the Teton Wilderness and Yellowstone Nat'l Park. The hiking this day was all offtrail and miles and miles from the nearest road. Also I had not seen anyone else for some days. This happened after about a week and a half or so on the hike. Now was hiking going up a ridge to get on the main ridge of this Two Ocean Plateau area. The terrain was undulating with some mixed conifer woods and open alpine meadows, and then the encounter happened.

Now was coming up from a small dip and in the trees nearby could see several small ponds nearby, 100 to maybe 200 or so feet away. In the small ponds I immediately saw several Grizzly Bear relaxing and swimming in the ponds. I immediately retreated some distance but could then not see the Bears. Now until this time I had not really seen a Grizzly Bear in the wild except very briefly the year before and wanted to watch the bears. I spotted a good tall conifer nearby so went over to this good sized conifer and stood next to the conifer. There were the Bears out in the meadow on the other side of the conifer being maybe several hundred feet away. I just stood there watching the Bears. Here I was in the deep Wyoming Wilderness and miles upon miles from the nearest road, with here were Three Grizzly Bears. It turned out it was a mother Sow Grizzly with her two yearling cubs. The Sow Grizzly mother was about 300 plus pounds it seemed and the two yearling cubs being maybe 50 pounds plus each. I stood next to the conifer and took in the sights. The yearling cubs were standing on their home legs with being maybe 3 to 3 and a half feet tall, and looking around in all directions. They knew something was amiss. The mother Bear just had her nose to the ground broadside to me. Then after some minutes, one of the cubs looked straight at me. Immediately all three Bears bolted from the area and vanished from view. What an Encounter! It took hours for my heart to slow down from the encounter. And still years later do recall the encounter this day on the last day of July. Later went on and from the heights of Two Ocean Plateau gazed down on the Thorofare - the Upper Yellowstone Valley below. What Country! Country that is still how it is meant to be all unroaded and wild, filled with Grizzlies and such, where one can still live and wander to theirs heart's desire.

So thought I would share this Grizzly Bear Encounter from 38 years ago.

Hope you have enjoyed and Wishing You The Best!
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