The weekend of 20 Sep 13, Tracy and I hiked at Pelican Valley (Google Map) in Yellowstone.
I've wanted to hike this trail for years, but it's closed most of the year as a bear management
area. So I scheduled this hike at a time when the trail would be open for day hiking, in hopes
of seeing some bears in the backcountry. We spent Friday night in Ashton, ID, and then drove
on in to the park on Saturday morning. The park was more crowded than expected, and there
was a big bicycle tour that day. Once at the trailhead, though, the hike was really nice...it was
flat and open and relatively uncrowded. The views of the river were nice, but we didn't see
any bears. We saw some bison, of course, and a coyote, but that was it. This valley was very
open, so it was hard for me to imagine it being very dangerous if there were bears in the area,
because I think you would be able to see them from a good distance. We planned to cross the
river about 4 miles in, but the bridge looked like it had washed out long ago, so we ended up
turning around and heading back, with a total of about 8 miles.
After getting back, we hiked a little on the Thorofare Trail...this trail is on my list of week long
trips that I must do someday. But Tracy's leg was giving her some problems, so headed out of
the park. We stayed the night in a cabin just outside the east entrance, and hiked a little on a
trail behind the cabin. We saw some good bear scat not far from the cabin, as this is prime
grizzly habitat in the Absaroka Mountains. The next morning, we were told that there was a
grizzly just outside our cabin that night, but we didn't see it. We then drove back into the park
on Sunday morning and saw a grizzly from the road not far from the Thorofare Trail. That was
nice. We then checked out the road up into the Absarokas just outside of Gardiner, and then
headed back home through West Yellowstone.
I enjoyed Pelican Valley, and would like to hike more in there. I was also reminded how much I
like the Absarokas for their wonderful wildness.