September 2 - 4: Hayden Valley to Beartooth

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andrew
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September 2 - 4: Hayden Valley to Beartooth

Post by andrew » Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:56 pm

With a holiday weekend ahead, it's time to head straight up to Canyon Village from work. When passing Hayden Valley, it was past 8:30 and dark, but one of the largest traffic jams I've seen for this time of year. Everyone was focused on the east side, towards the Wapiti rendezvous area. Looks like I have my morning spot picked out.

Camp was deployed in the dark.

Saturday, Sept 2

The goal is to be up early and head to Hayden Valley to find what the fuss was all about last night.  It turns out that there is a relatively fresh bison carcass out towards the river, east of the road.

Unfortunately, the morning sun and fog made it for some really difficult viewing.

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When the fog began to clear, we could see a grizzly bear on the carcass, but the light was just too painful. So I left for some breakfast.

The hike today was to Wolf Lake; uneventful. Shower. Nap. Dinner.

Back at the carcass location for the evening. There is such a crowd here, it's best to park it for the evening and avoid the pain of trying to move around. The bear was around all day, sleeping and eating.

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This bear is pretty large. After studying the photos, I'm almost sure it's the same one from last year's LeHardy Rapids carcass.

Anyways, the large bear was sleeping close to the carcass when another bear approached. The sleeping bear was sort of in the sage so hard to see until it was too late. The approaching bear looked to be too small to take over the carcass, but the larger bear chased him off anyway.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJjpdS5l4Qk

Sunday, Sept 2

Expecting another foggy morning in Hayden Valley, I instead spent it higher around Dunraven Pass. It should be whitebark pine season with black bears and Clark's nutcrackers around. After enjoying the smoky sunrise, there was a bear jam close to the Dunraven trailhead. But they were looking clear across the valley! True, there did seem to be a black bear up a tree, but it's just a dot through a scope at that distance. We can do better.

So it's up my most frequented trail in the park: Dunraven trailhead up to the Mt Washburn firetower.  The trail has snow through June, wildflowers through July/August, and bears through September.  Hiking it throughout the summer season is almost always a different experience.

Sure enough, there were a couple bears in the area, mostly raiding squirrel caches and not so much in the trees.

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It's worth noting that the bears will head straight up and down the mountainsides, while the trail is a switchback pattern in this area. So a human and bear can cross paths multiple times. It also means that it can more common for a bear to appear suddenly from behind a bush/boulder rather than being seen approaching on the trail.

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After seeing the second bear on the way up, I started asking oncoming hikers about any sightings (as well as giving my report). One guy in-particular responded with "oh, there are no bears in this area of the park." (!!) It didn't take long to change his mind after showing a few pictures on my camera and pointing to where the last bear was seen. After a quick reminder to <em>always</em> be bear aware, we both moved on.

On the way back down, I approached an oncoming hiker. As he got closer, I noticed that his bear spray was out and pointed towards me. "You're making me nervous with that thing," I said. He said that a bear was following me on the trail, but when I turned around, the bear was in the trees again, finding more pine cones.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the other hiker, I explained what food the bear is looking for, and is most-likely harmless. Put that away before I nervously get sprayed in the face. ;)

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That evening was back at the carcass. The bear didn't stir until after everything was in shadow, so no photos. However, the Wapiti wolves ended up stealing the show that evening - all 17 of them! After many failed attempts to count them, I put the scope in one spot and let them pass by. I took a video, although it was dark, and YouTube's compression almost makes some of them un-see-able. Anyways, see if you can find all 17. I'll give you a hint in that there are two grays in front of the white at the very beginning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwZoinkqtpY

Monday, Sept 3

The morning was on Dunraven Pass again to watch the sunrise. It's smoke was especially thick this morning.

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Today I was a little tired, so no hikes. I drove all the way to Red Lodge, enjoying the hazy sights along the way.

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Got back to Canyon in the early afternoon. Shower. Nap. Dinner.

The evening was back in Hayden Valley. The sun was fading out early from the smoke, and the larger bear showed up at the final moments of light. More interestingly, a second bear showed up, but it saw the other one at the carcass and stayed at a distance. The light faded with the approaching bear never crossing the river.

Tuesday, Sept 4

Back to work today, packing up camp at 4:30am to make it to Wilson by 9am with time to take some photos along the way. There really weren't that many stopping moments though with all the haze. Even Oxbow Bend was uninteresting with Moran almost invisible and everything else still mostly green.

More photos available here: http://www.tetonmtnliving.com/GYE/Autumn-2017/


Formally atw527 | Instagram | GYE Galleries

billandkaren
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Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:50 pm

Re: September 2 - 4: Hayden Valley to Beartooth

Post by billandkaren » Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:12 pm

Andrew, we were there the evening of your first video. It was neat to watch the second bear approach from across the valley, swim the river and get close to the carcass while the darker bear slept away. What was really funny was the reaction of the crowd. At one point before before the second bear showed up the first bear got up and streched for just a moment. There was a buzz of excitement then a collective sigh when it layed back down.Then the "ooh's" and "aah's during the skirmish made it seem almost like a sporting event. It was also cool to share the moment with foreign tourists around us, letting them use our binculars and scope to get a better look. They were very appreciative and fun to talk to.

Great video, much better than mine. Thanks for posting.

Bill and Karen



Kat
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Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:22 pm

Re: September 2 - 4: Hayden Valley to Beartooth

Post by Kat » Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:31 am

Thanks for the exciting post! Your picture of the bear and carcass and video of one bear chasing the other were amazing. Seeing so many wolves at once was quite an experience! I appreciate your efforts to share the highlights of your trip.



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Max
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Re: September 2 - 4: Hayden Valley to Beartooth

Post by Max » Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:35 am

"There are no bears in this area of the park." Sigh.

Max



Dorothy
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Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:45 pm

Re: September 2 - 4: Hayden Valley to Beartooth

Post by Dorothy » Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:20 pm

What a great report -- photos are wonderful and that video is exciting! Thanks for sharing that incredible experience and all the rest of the information, too.

We're heading up in couple of days -- hope to see something even half as exciting as that! We're pretty much limited to what we can see from the road, but your report of hiking along Washburn was ... really ... exciting (and a bit intimidating).

But yeah, "No bears in this part of the park!" Sheesh! Glad you gently set him straight.

Thanks again for the report.



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andrew
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Location: Victor, ID
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Re: September 2 - 4: Hayden Valley to Beartooth

Post by andrew » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:47 am

Thanks, appreciate the comments!
billandkaren wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:12 pm
What was really funny was the reaction of the crowd. At one point before before the second bear showed up the first bear got up and streched for just a moment. There was a buzz of excitement then a collective sigh when it layed back down.Then the "ooh's" and "aah's during the skirmish made it seem almost like a sporting event. It was also cool to share the moment with foreign tourists around us, letting them use our binculars and scope to get a better look. They were very appreciative and fun to talk to.
Indeed, chatting with others is a great way to pass the time when waiting.


Formally atw527 | Instagram | GYE Galleries

MFFL
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Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:18 am

Re: September 2 - 4: Hayden Valley to Beartooth

Post by MFFL » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:18 pm

Andrew, what a great report! My wife and I were in the park right after you, Sept. 5-8. We stopped in Hayden Valley on our first day and the bear was across the river having a nap with his leg sticking straight up in the air, :lol:. He got up and crossed the river and made his way to the carcass and had a snack. We watched him for quite a while and as the crowd grew, we heard the story of the scuffle with the other bear that you filmed. It was so cool getting to see video of it after hearing about it and wishing I could have seen it. Thanks for sharing!!!



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