Day 69: Bears & Moose

After our decision last night to do a short day today and tackle the pass the first thing tomorrow morning we decided we would sleep in. It was a real luxury staying in our nice warm quilt until the sun had hit our tent spot and warmed the air up.

We got up and had a slow breakfast including a hot coffee, something we normally never do. In fact, this is the first time this whole trip. As expected our tent and bag were damp so we took the time to hang them while we enjoyed breakfast and a coffee.

We are getting more into bear country now and had bear spray shipped to South Pass City for us to carry from this point on.  We didn’t expect to have any real problems till after Pinedale but we wanted to be prepared.   We fitted the holsters to our belts yesterday and did a few practice draws to make sure we could get the canisters out quickly when needed. They recommend you try a test spray from each can just to make sure it works and so this morning before leaving we both had a go at drawing and shooting the spray. Yeti of course was a natural and her hands moved so fast it was just a blur of motion resulting in a cloud of mist. I think those bears have a lot to fear from us.

Nearly all of our hike today is uphill and we start the first section of 8 miles of road walking. As we come to the top of a rise and just start going down the other side Yeti sees a bear in the shrubs beside the road. She has 2 cubs with her and is about 100 yards away. We stop, wondering what to do, and then start shouting to get her attention. She is intent on what she is eating and while her cubs hear us and pop their heads up in our direction she just continues to eat. We yell some more and finally she hears us. She immediately turns and starts charging towards us. We both have our bear spray out but of course do the wrong thing and start backing off into the shrubs away from her charge. After about 30 yards she realizes we are not a threat. She stops, stands on her back legs, looks at us and then lumbers off after her cubs away from the road. We still take a wide arch around the spot she was and keep an eye on the way she went. Ok, our first bear encounter and we already blew it but it is hard not to run from a charging bear. And this was only a black bear……..The grizzlies are yet to come.

Mid morning we are passing another BLM campground and as we read the sign we look down the road we are traveling on and see a moose looking back at as. It stands there for a while and we wonder what to do now. Moose can be very aggressive and unpredictable. Again, we start heading cross country to give it a wide berth and it just ambles off down the other road to the camp ground. I am sure there will be some surprised campers down there.

By the afternoon we have hit the spot where the CDT and the Ley and CDT route split and we start taking the Ley route. We are following a nicely made trail when I notice it does not match with where the Ley route has us. This trail we are on is marked on the map but it goes to a dead end. We go cross country to get back to the Ley  Trail, find something but just end up in a mosquito infested swap which could have been a trail a long time ago but is now just congested with downed trees and swarms of bugs. We struggle on for a while, climbing over trees and sloshing through ruts that could have been trails but are now just streams full of run off water and mud.  We debate about turning back or going on and finally climb the hill and find a real trail. By this time we have guessed that the trail we started on was the new trail that led to this spot but our maps have not been updated to reflect this. Another lesson learned about navigating.

Our camp site for the night is on an island in the middle of the stream that is flowing down the canyon floor. We have started encountering snow and all the ground on either side of the island is either too wet to put our tend or too steeply sloped.  We have gone as far as we wanted for the day so we settle on this spot as our best option and call it home.  We have started hanging our food bags at night away from our camp and complete our day with this chore.