Opinion » Lingo Yarns

Hiking

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By the time you read this I should be 20 miles from any road in the continental United States. I will have donned my brand-new hiking boots, stuffed my new backpack, worn in my brand-new moisture-wicking pants and shirts and will be applying fresh moleskin to my half-dollar-sized blisters. By this time I hope to have seen a bear--from a respectably safe distance--and caught a small cutthroat trout in a tributary of the Bechler River with my fly rod. I will have crossed the continental divide three times in less than two hours and will be eating rehyrdrated beans. My bourbon stored in brand-new Nalgene bottles will probably be gone and I will most definitely smell in places that shouldn't be smelled by respectable people anyway.

I've been looking forward to my backcountry Yellowstone adventure since February. My friends are tired of hearing about it. My publisher is tired of seeing maps spread out across the kitchen table and paying the credit card bills for bear repellent. I've clipped and trimmed everything down to shed unwanted ounces from my load. I feel I prepared sufficiently but perhaps at this very moment I am cursing myself for bringing the camera instead the coffee pot.

I've never seen Yellowstone before. People I've spoken with say it's great, that I'll be "blown away" by the beauty, wildlife and grandeur. A few geysers, some wildlife, some fishing in the Madison River--I anticipate a good time.

Of course, the horror stories abound and there might be reason to be fearful. One report says that there is a four-year cycle for high levels of grizzly bear births. Guess what? This year is one. There's reason to fear the bear. A Yellowstone Park employee was mauled in June by two adult grizzly bears. But looking at the scientific reports of grizzly bear distribution it seems the area of our hike is in a relatively low bear population area of the park. While everyone is always worried about the bears, personally, I'm more afraid of moose.