Trip Pictures

Large elk herd on

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Eric @ Carter Mountain

Eric @ Carter Mountain

Eric @ Carter Mountain

My truck on Carter

Mountain

More fun with shadows

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Eric @ Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Carter Mountain

Antelope @ Carter

Mountain

Absarokas

Absarokas

Bear Creek Pass

Absarokas

Absarokas

Our camp

Our camp

Washakie Wilderness

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The weekend of 6 Aug 10, Eric and I went to check out the Absaroka Mountains outside the

east end of Yellowstone.  I decided I wanted to try to see grizzly bears on the high mountains

feeding on Army Cutworm Moths.  They gather in large groups to feed on the moths, and I

decided I wanted to see that.  As a result, Eric and I armed ourselves to the teeth (well, he

armed himself to the teeth, and I figured he wouldn't let me get eaten), and we headed out.  I

did take the bear fence I had bought a few years ago for our trip to Alaska.

I did a lot of research to try to figure out where the bears would be, and I found one

overarching fact: I don't think the bear researchers want you to know where they find the

bears.  I read a lot of research reports, and they all told generically the types of places where

they find bears, and they gave locations on very generic maps, but there was no mention of

GPS coordinates, specific mountains, or anything else that would really help you find the

places where they see bears.  Okay, that kind of makes sense, so I figured there would be

hikers with trip reports that mention seeing the bears.  There weren't.  It's weird, but after

literally hours of searching, I couldn't find any trip reports that mentioned seeing bears feeding

on moths.  I found a couple of sites that mentioned bears may be on a certain mountain, or the

mountain is prime habitat, but there was no mention of someone actually seeing the bears.

So, I took the little information I did have concerning habitat, and I scoured the map looking for

a good place.

We ended up going to Carter Mountain (Google Map) on our first day.  I had high hopes for

this mountain.  There was a road that would get us up high, and I had read good things about

the bears up here.  After an extremely long drive through Yellowstone, into Cody, and then up

the teeth jarring 4 wheel drive road to the top of the mountain, we made it to the top late in the

afternoon.  The views were spectacular, and the mountain was much prettier than I expected.

The bear signs, though, were virtually non-existent.  We saw some places that could have

been dig sites, but we couldn't be positive.  Regardless, we didn't see any bears.  We camped

up on the mountain as the wind howled and storms blew all around us.

The next day we decided to head down and try backpacking into somewhere.  We ended up

going to the Wood River (Google Map) at the old mining town of Kirwin, WY.  We planned to

hike up Mount Crosby, but once we got there and looked closely at the trail description, we

decided it was steeper than we wanted to deal with.  There were also a lot of cars at the

trailhead, so we were a little concerned that it would be crowded.  After sitting there a while,

though, we realized that most everyone was exploring the mining town.  So we packed up and

headed up the Wood River along the the East Fork Trail towards Bear Creek Pass.  Two

people had written in the trail register two days earlier that they had seen a large grizzly on

Mount Crosby, and our trail was running along the base of Mount Crosby, so we were keeping

our hopes up.

After hiking several miles up to the base of Bear Creek Pass, we set up camp at one of the

only sites we had found along the whole trail.  The hike was really nice...pretty, flat, and

pleasant.  After getting camp set up (with the trusty bear fence), we made some dinner and

then enjoyed the views above our camp, trying to find grizzly bears on the surrounding peaks.

We didn't find any, and we eventually turned in for the night.  Before climbing into the tent, I

started hearing elk.  Looking on the hill beside our camp, I saw a large herd of elk just 50

yards from our camp.  It was really cool watching them meander the hillside right at dusk just a

few yards from our camp.  After that, we had an uneventful night.

We got up the next morning, packed up, and headed back to the car.  We had an uneventful

hike back, and didn't see any one, single bear.  I went out specifically trying to find a grizzly

bear in the backcountry, and we really didn't even see any signs of bears.  We had the trail

almost completely to ourselves.  The only people we saw were near the trailhead looking at

the mining ruins.  It was interesting, though, because literally every person we saw was

carrying a firearm.  Most of them were carrying large revolvers, and some were carrying rifles.

It was obvious that these people were antsy about grizzlies around the trailhead, and we had

been looking for them in the backcountry and hadn't seen anything.

The Absarokas were much prettier than I had expected, though.  I thought they were

completely wooded, but there were pleasant meadows, grass covered mountains, and scree

covered slopes.  I didn't really want the range to be as pretty as it was...after all, it's a long

drive from Salt Lake, and there are supposedly a lot of grizzlies out there!  But it was really

pretty, so I may have to do more hiking out there.  I'm not sure if I want to go back to

specifically look for bear again, though...maybe if I don't, that will mean I'll run into them all

over the place...