“U R Brave”

Last year I posted on YouTube a video of some Yellowstone wolves crossing the road in front of me.   One of the first comments was just one line:  “U R brave.”    I didn’t think it was brave, but it looked that way to someone out there.

Of course, courage is subjective.   If you’re not afraid to do something, it doesn’t take courage to do it.

This week I did something that took a bit of courage for me.    I camped in a tent, all by myself, in Mammoth campground in Yellowstone National Park.   (Actually, it’s taking some courage to even write that:  in my head I’m hearing people laughing at me and saying, “Really?  That took courage??”)  But here’s the thing:  I’m 58 years old, and in the 29 years I’ve been married I’ve done plenty of solo hiking, biking, and travelling, but I’ve never actually spent a night by myself in a tent – and certainly not in grizzly country.     I know how to change a flat tire, but have never had to do it, and I’d never even been solely responsible for putting up the tent or making the campfire.    And, of course, there’s my fear of grizzly bears.

But, I really do mean that this took a “bit” of courage.  It’s not like I suddenly overcame a fear of heights and walked across an abyss.  Nonetheless, it feels good.   And I had a marvelous couple of days.   The gods even rewarded me with the chance to watch wolves and bears and bighorn sheep without the crowds of people who are usually present.    And I managed to get the tent up, and make a campfire without a single mistake.   I mean, really, just check out this great fire:

And sleeping alone in the tent felt perfectly comfortable.    Something did wake me up around 4 in the morning, and I lay awake for a while wondering if the end was in sight.  But I eventually fell back asleep.     Once it got light, I could see what the noise was:

And since I was up so nice and early, I headed out toward the Lamar Valley to see what animals I could spot.  And was I ever rewarded!  I first saw a stunning group of big horn sheep:

And a fat and healthy looking black bear along the side of the road:

Then I found the wolves.

Usually when you see wolves in Yellowstone, you’re accompanied by a bevy of photographers with their long lenses.

That can be entertaining in itself, but it’s much more fun to make your own discovery.    And to then have the viewing all to yourself…well, that’s just unheard of.

But that’s just what happened this week.  I pulled off the road, and after just a few minutes I saw two wolves running down a slope, straight at me.  They spooked a big horn sheep, who ran up the slope.  They came within a couple of hundred feet of me, and were joined by another wolf.  The three of them tussled around, and I got to watch them, by myself, for about 15 minutes before other people came.   Cars did drive by, but I think because I don’t have one of those big scopes, no one thought I was seeing anything.  Fine with me!

Perfect.     Here they are:

About westerner54

Hello. I'm Cindy, and I love to hike, bike and explore the outdoors - particularly the western U.S.
This entry was posted in Adventure, Hiking, Life, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Travel, Yellowstone and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to “U R Brave”

  1. sonjarosas says:

    Wow! That sounds like a fun adventure–amazing pictures and a super-cool wolf sighting! I really gotta visit Yellowstone sometime! Plus I love elk…I think waking up to them browsing like it’s no big deal would be make me incredibly giddy. Great post!

  2. avian101 says:

    In my book U R Brave! 🙂 More power to you!

  3. wisfullywandering says:

    Great post! I love the Mammoth camp site. You have me itching to go back to Yellowstone!! Great spot, with those wolves – and all to yourself?! Lucky!!

  4. I feel fear about camping by myself WITHOUT grizzlies! I do agree it does feel great after I do something I kinda feared. Way to do it anyway and have such a great time!

  5. char says:

    Awesome post! I loved the wolf video. And the bighorn sheep shot is AMAZING! You are definitely brave (and you lived to tell the tale).

    • westerner54 says:

      What a nice thing to say – and I need to check out the hike you wrote about in your last post – it looks wonderful.

      • char says:

        It was pretty amazing! The map shows trails crisscrossing all over the Sawtooths, so there are probably lots of great ones I’m missing out on…but I know I’m doing this one again in June (I’m just hoping the snow is gone; we did it in August last year and ran into snow at the top. But the weather’s been pretty warm this year, so my fingers are crossed)

  6. Mind Margins says:

    I’M impressed! I’ve never camped alone. I’m driving alone from Dallas to Jackson Hole for my daughter’s wedding this summer, and that is definitely out of my comfort zone. I have visions of car trouble in the vast emptiness of eastern Wyoming. I don’t even like hiking solo, especially with bears around. Good for you for doing it all on your own!

    • westerner54 says:

      Dallas to Jackson is a long way…and I know exactly what you mean about the worry of breaking down out there – lots of Wyoming that’s only sagebrush and antelope, that’s for sure. How was the half-marathon? A success, I hope.

  7. FeyGirl says:

    Holy cow, this was one of the most beautiful posts… EXCEPTIONALLY brave, are you kidding? I get scared when I hear anything outside the tent — and believe me, I think it may have been on the smaller side, lol. WOW. Just beautiful. We need to protect these amazing creatures instead of what many states have on tap for them. So incredibly magnificent — how lucky for you.

  8. znara says:

    Awesome in so many ways!!

  9. ldsiebs says:

    What an inspiring story! I am afraid of camping in bear country, I’ll admit it, but we are gathering a bit of courage ourselves this summer. Any advice? We don’t have to worry about bears in Texas! I love Yellowstone, but have never camped there. Where did you camp? Your pictures are phenomenal! Thank you so much for sharing them and your story. You are encouraging me to get out there more often, and to push the boundaries and get even further out there!

    • westerner54 says:

      I camped at the Mammoth Hot Spring campground, which is probably the best one to choose if you don’t actually want to see bears in the campground! Are you going to Yellowstone this summer?

      • ldsiebs says:

        We are camping in Colorado this summer. I love Yellowstone and Teton National Park. We have been several times. Next time we go back, we are camping! Your blog makes me want to make that our trip next summer, if not sooner. Inspiring! Thank you for the tip on where to camp!

  10. ldsiebs says:

    P.S. Beautiful photos! I love the wildlife.

  11. Deano says:

    Well done! The Bison could seem to care less about the Wolves!

  12. Alaska Girl at Heart says:

    What an amazing experience. I’ll be doing a lot of solo camping on my trip to Alaska this month. I hope I’m as blessed by the animals. Beautiful.

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