Grand Teton National Park

Trip Start Mar 26, 2006
Trip End Oct 20, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Monday, July 17, 2006

Hello again from the road! I was all excited to write about the past month of retreat and study at Shambhala Mountain Center but it's going to have to wait because it has been a very interesting couple of hours.

We arrived at Grand Teton National Park in Jackson, Wyoming late this afternoon, checked into a beautiful, quiet (so we thought!) campsite at one of the park campgrounds, and were delighted to discover a breathtakingly beautiful beach on Jackson Lake, just a five minute walk from our tent. The weather has been scorchingly hot - 102 degrees on our way here today - so the moderately cool water was perfect for a swim. We couldn't figure out why none of the guidebooks mention this refreshing spot!? After our swim, we were preparing dinner when our neighbors stopped by and casually mentioned that a bear had visited our campsite last evening and made off with the previous visitors' dinner. Since we've been mountain folk for years and bears visited our house several times we weren't concerned, but I got out a couple of extra pans to bang together and make noise just in case.

Five minutes into cooking our chicken dinner we had a visitor - a cinnamon-colored black bear looking for din-din. Todd and I started yelling, I began banging the pots together like the Energizer Bunny on steroids, and as the bear ran off into the woods Todd went running after it just to make more of a point. Go, Todd! Our neighbors quickly returned in time to see the bear scampering off into the woods, and the father made sure his son got his first glimpse of a wild bear.

We settled down pretty quickly, finished dinner with no more interruptions, cleaned everything up, and left for a drive to a scenic point above the park.

What we returned to was a bit more of a surprise. Our poor tent, the tent we've loved and cherished for 8 years, was absolutely mangled. One tent pole was snapped completely in half and bent all askew, the tent material on top was punctured by two even rows of claw holes, and the entire outside of the tent was covered in huge muddy claw prints twice as large as a man's hand. Considering that the only things inside the tent at the time were our air mattress and bedding - all our food and toiletries were in the car - this bear meant business.

Unfortunately, this bear had already been relocated last year after scavenging in park campgrounds and had returned again this summer. The ranger mentioned that because it's getting more and more aggressive, they're going to have to shoot it. I didn't want the details - we changed sites so that we're now surrounded by other campers, but I really wasn't expecting to hear that they're going to have to kill the animal. It made me feel worse when we learned that this bear's mother had been killed by a grizzly somewhere in the park.

We just learned that last night the bear also tore the top off a camper trailer in the campground loop next door, and we saw the park staff drive by with a huge cannister that's used to capture bears...

Anyway, it's good to be safe after another exciting national park adventure! I'll try to write down some thoughts about seminary for my next entry. Missing you all - Todd and I are sending lots of love your way. Keep up the e-mails - it's great to hear from everyone!!!


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