Exploring Yellowstone Park
Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.
Since I was a teenager, I had always loved the hum of the city, the movement of urban life and the many pleasures offered from life in a large town. However, I never learned true beauty and peace until I discovered the vast openness of the Yellowstone wilderness.
Yellowstone is a massive park that lies across three North American states: Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Nearly 9000 square kilometres, the park is a wild panorama of snow-capped mountains, crystal blue ribbon lakes and meandering creeks that accommodate abundant trout, pike and perch.
One summer, I decided to flee the muggy city streets for Yellowstone, and I hit the road with just a backpack and my best pal – Rusty the dog.
On that hot summer's night in August, we arrived at the park and started to climb the rocky hills. I pitched a tent near a tiny stream that trickled over great white rocks. An avid camper, I had no qualms about sleeping rough that night and had no idea of the challenge Rusty and I would face in just a few hours.
As night fell, Rusty and I snuggled and fell asleep to the music of the tiny, tinkling waterfall just below the camping ground. Sometime around daybreak, Rusty's eye shot open and his nose began to sniff. ‘What's up, boy?' I asked as I sleepily awoke. Rusty whined. ‘It's nothing. Go back to sleep', I told him. He didn't. The dog was up and now at the door of the tent, sniffing and whimpering madly. Now, I was getting nervous! I grabbed my jacket and prepared to exit the tent. ‘Stay!' I warned Rusty as I searched the large landscape that was lit up by the rising sun.
I stretched and soaked in the orange sky, dawn chorus and the clean air.
Just as I was about to return to the tent, I heard growling behind me. I turned and to my astonishment, met the biggest and most ferocious bear I had ever seen. In fact, I had only seen bears in the zoo before, where they were safely tucked away behind those metal bars. Now, here was a real live Grizzly in all his glory, fore paws in the air with claws at the ready, his hind legs shaking with fury that I had invaded his territory. His growl roared like a dragon's fire – I had never heard anything quite like it. Why had nobody told me Grizzly bears were so large?
My mind raced through all the guide books and stories I had read about bear attacks. PLAY DEAD – that's all I could remember. I fell on the ground and curled up like a hedgehog. To my surprise, even Rusty was terrified and lay in front of me like a shield. As I lay there on the dusty ground, eyes shut tight and imagining my future as bear food and how the bear would rip my limbs apart, we heard the bear sniff around the tent, shuffle and move away. As I dared to open my eyes, I could see the gruesome Grizzly move further into the distance. I quietly arose, grabbed the tent and bags and ran with Rusty out of that area.
Later that morning, I informed the park warden of our encounter. Angrily, he informed me I had camped in a protected zone and told me I was lucky to wake up alive. What an encounter! I will never forget my lucky escape to this very day.