I am not sure how else to describe Yellowstone these days except that it is on steroids and full-speed ahead and after being here full-time through one season there seems to be a huge difference between last year and this. So far! The season has just begun.
Everywhere I go there are people who are enthusiastically enjoying the park and in ways I have not noticed before. More people are parking legally and taking off on hikes across the sagebrush. Kind of like they just felt the need to walk and so off they went. It is strange to drive down the road and see people out in the distance and in many areas. Also, people are pulling over and spending more time at wildlife sightings – any sightings from a duck to a bear. Where ever a scope or camera is set up people are stopping and looking. Honestly, it is great to see people enjoying the park more thoroughly.
But, at the same time, people are hiking out to bears with small children in tow. I am afraid that many don’t seem to understand the concept of wild and dangerous. Luckily, so far, the animals are giving a lot of grace and I hope that the luck continues.
For the most part the energy is enthusiastic and positive. The Christmas type of excitement. They see a camera, hurry and park somewhere, some times in the road, grab their own camera and run up, “What are you seeing, what are you seeing…” I am afraid that photography has become much more difficult as we step aside to play tour guide.
And there are those who are not so nice and positive – who seem to think that the world is all about them and they are the ones who won’t follow the rules and ruin wildlife sightings for everyone. Yesterday, after photographers waited for 3.5 hours to see the black bear family, the crowd went out of control and rangers shut everything down. All that time and effort and it finally seemed to be paying off but, “Everyone get in your cars now!” Can’t say that I blame the rangers for being frustrated as they are just trying to keep everyone safe and give everyone a chance to see the animals.
No matter how often people are told to stay out of the road or don’t stop and park in the road, they do what they please. The ironic part is that if they are blocking you from the animals and you ask them to move, they tell you that you are rude. Now, where does that type of thinking come from?
And so the crowd is mixed and as with everything you take the unpleasant with the pleasant. But, yesterday, while sitting and waiting for the black bears to rise from a nap, I experienced what Yellowstone is all about for me – the showing and the teaching about the animals. People asked me if the bears would come back out and I told them exactly what would happen and within what time frame and so they decided that the show might be worth the waiting and the watching. Luckily, for me, the bears did exactly what I told folks that they would do and they didn’t have to wait long.
But, what was really wonderful was watching their reaction and listening to their comments. It is unusual to have short-term visitors wait a long time to see an animal appear but when those bears came out and the cubs began running up and down the trees, everyone was exclaiming how it had been worth it to wait and that it was the best show ever. “The grand finale” of their vacation. Young kids could not get enough of watching those cubs and I was smiling from ear to ear. Not much of a photo op for me because we had to stay so far back and so I changed it to video and recorded the cubs at play and the crowd delighting in their antics.
I am so thankful that there are young people out there who would rather sit and watch bear cubs play than most anything else in the world. They will remember that for the rest of their lives and as many said, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.” For many, they will never see something so real, wild and free again.
Please enjoy this video clip – unedited with the sound of the crowd.