The weekend of September 20, 2013, Tracy and I hiked at Pelican Valley in Yellowstone. I’ve wanted to hike this trail for years, but it’s closed most of the year as a bear management area. So I scheduled this hike at a time when the trail would be open for day hiking, in hopes of seeing some bears in the backcountry. We spent Friday night in Ashton, ID, and then drove on in to the park on Saturday morning. The park was more crowded than expected, and there was a big bicycle tour that day. Once at the trailhead, though, the hike was really nice…it was flat and open and relatively uncrowded. The views of the river were nice, but we didn’t see any bears. We saw some bison, of course, and a coyote, but that was it. This valley was very open, so it was hard for me to imagine it being very dangerous if there were bears in the area, because I think you would be able to see them from a good distance. We planned to cross the river about 4 miles in, but the bridge looked like it had washed out long ago, so we ended up turning around and heading back, with a total of about 8 miles.
After getting back, we hiked a little on the Thorofare Trail…this trail is on my list of week-long trips that I must do someday. But Tracy’s leg was giving her some problems, so we headed out of the park. We stayed the night in a cabin just outside the east entrance, and hiked a little on a trail behind the cabin. We saw some good bear scat not far from the cabin, as this is prime grizzly habitat in the Absaroka Mountains. The next morning, we were told that there was a grizzly just outside our cabin that night, but we didn’t see it. We then drove back into the park on Sunday morning and saw a grizzly from the road not far from the Thorofare Trail. That was nice. We then checked out the road up into the Absarokas just outside of Gardiner, and then headed back home through West Yellowstone.
I enjoyed Pelican Valley, and would like to hike more in there. I was also reminded how much I like the Absarokas for their wonderful wildness.