Soon after I started working in Yellowstone, I received a package from my dad. It contained his trail guide with a letter tucked inside. In it, he shared a list of nine trails he thought I might enjoy hiking, along with the page number where I would find the trail listed and why he included it on the list. He ended with some fatherly advice: Please remember to observe all the precautions mentioned in the book–even in the summer, you are in more danger from hypothermia than bears. Be careful and have fun. Love– Dad
I still have the letter. When I read it recently, I thought about all the times my husband and I have set off into the wilderness unprepared, about all the times we don’t get it right on the trail. Oh, we carry food and water and make bear-deterring noise. We’re usually off the trail by dark and rarely hike alone. My tendency, though, is to think more about what the weather is doing this minute than what it might do later. I have to work to remember that in the mountains the weather might do anything, anytime.
Thanks to years of hiking with a husband who’s more prepared on the trail than I, as well as a couple of unnecessary unpleasant experiences, I’m learning to apply my dad’s advice, advice that bears repeating:
- Please remember to observe all the precautions mentioned in the book. (or the sign, park flier, etc.) Know how much distance you need to keep between yourself and park animals. Wear sunscreen. Carry bear spray. Bring food and water.
- Even in the summer, you are in more danger from hypothermia than bears. Be prepared with layers so you can stay warm and dry in Yellowstone’s unpredictable weather. At the same time, be aware that you are in bear country. Buy or rent bear spray. Learn how to use it. Keep it with you. Pay attention and make noise on the trail.
- Be careful. Watch the trail. Watch the weather. Watch for wildlife, stopped traffic, and pedestrians. Assume every driver in Yellowstone is a distracted driver.
- Have fun. In the words of my then-toddler son, “There’s not much places like Yellowstone.” No, there aren’t. Yellowstone was established for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. Enjoy the place. Enjoy the people you are there with and the ones you don’t know but are there among. Enjoy it for what it is rather than being frustrated by what it is not.
- For more information about planning a trip to Yellowstone, check out the National Park Service website here.
- Feeling overwhelmed by planning your Yellowstone vacation? Let me help you map out a satisfying Yellowstone experience. For more information or to schedule, contact me here.