October 8, 2011

Sky of Blue, Sea of Green

It was a huge grizzly that we never saw. But we were always certain of its presence (the air got electric and putrid). Claire and I were finishing a loop trail at the north end of Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. And I had dragged her there.

We had already celebrated the beauty of lake, craggy Teton views and a pornographic explosion of wildflowers. We spotted crusty discs of bear poop and sweated from our ascent to a panoramic viewpoint. Coming down, tall shrubbery walled the trail which we found blocked by a steaming pile.

We had arrived even before the flies, which told trouble. Then we saw the big clawed paw print. Steps beyond the odor sharpened. Now I know. Grizzles smell like a landfill in a heatwave.

Besides the bear spray, my only recourse was to launch into a pathetic chorus of Yellow Submarine (so strong is the survival instinct). Reader, you have never heard such an unsteady, wobbling and adrenaline-laced version of that tune, clapping, we beat it to tatters until we found the car. Later, my ranger friend surmised that the pile-maker had likely been a grizzly--the black bears in this sector had long fled from their invasion.

In telling the news, Claire would call it our bear encounter. I insisted that it wasn't an encounter without a sighting. And statistically, these encounters were not always grim. What we had was probably worse--those wretched smells and rustlings put to our own imaginations.

1 comment:

Antonia Malchik said...

Beautiful, as always.

I have spent many, many hikes singing wavering version of "Dancing Matilda" and "Goodnight Irene." Why these were my mother's choices for warning off grizzlies, I have no idea :)