Lessons Learned on the Trail


A look back at our June 2012 Yellowstone National Park & Grand Teton National Park trip journal. A common occurrence we learned when visiting the parks is that there is traffic. Throughout our trip we encountered “bear jams” or “buffalo jams” or “elk jams”…you get the idea. Anytime there were animals within viewing distance there would be lines of cars either driving slow or parked on the side of the road. We learned that first day that the early bird gets the worm. The men in my life (my husband and son) love the outdoors. They hunt,fish and everything in-between so understanding the nature of animals we would get up early and get on the road to find spots to view wildlife. Leaving early helped us escape many of the “bear jams” and allowed us to see the wildlife in the quiet early mornings or late evenings. We were able to see all the wild animals in the park multiple times while many we talked to in the park barely saw any. When we would come across traffic that was slow or stopped the kids would say…”look at the bears, look at the bears” in their best Yogi bear voice. Emily and Brady use to watch Yogi Bear all the time and there was a scene from one of the cartoons where Yogi says: “look at the bears, look at the bears, look at the bears”. After our trip she decided we needed to make t-shirts with the “look at the bears” saying on it because of all the time we spent in traffic.

Journal excerpt:

“We got up early and drove the loop and saw some cars pulled over so we stopped to see what everyone was looking at. There was an Elk and a pack of wolves. The wolves were trying to circle the elk. We sat for an hour watching the scene. The Elk outsmarted them and ran off as the wolves moved in. We then headed to Mammoth Springs to go on our first hike. We were prepared with our new handy hiking poles and took off on a 5 mile hike. (Did I say it was our first hike….ever) We hiked to the Beaver Ponds trail and the climb was pretty steep but leveled out. We were by ourselves for most of the hike. Emily and I started twirling and singing The Sound of Music song: The Hills Are Alive, ¬†while the guys kept looking and pointing out the animal scat and tracks. We picnicked at the lake (never saw a beaver) and then hiked back out. It took us almost 5 hours to hike the trial, Mark hung in there the whole way.”

I would definitely recommend starting out on a shorter hike if its your first…

A good set of trekking poles is a must! We started out with some off brand ones that were inexpensive but learned over the years that quality does make a difference. We now use the carbon fiber black diamond poles we bought from R.E.I. Do the research when investing in your camping equipment. It does make a difference. ¬†Those first set of poles didn’t make it through the first vacation.

One thing I haven’t talked about is the challenges that face my husband in our outdoor adventures. I have so much respect for him, and he is a good sport. It always seems we have something crazy happen to us! He always goes along with what we come up with despite the challenges. Mark was born with Cerebral Palsy and has spastic paralysis on his left side. He has always taken on challenges and doesn’t let his disability stop him. We probably should have picked a shorter hike for the first one, but he just takes his trekking poles and takes off. We hiked around 20 miles that first camping vacation and learned so much. Needless to say over the last few years we now look at that first vacation and see how “green” we were. We now look at that 20 miles of hiking from that first trip and think that’s nothing.

Blessings, Cathy