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It was their first time seeing moose that close and they were impressed during a visit to Grand Teton Park

Living the Wild Life

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Photos: Bill Schiess |

The five-mile hike to Taggart Lake and down Beaver Creek to the parking area in Grand Teton National Park was about the perfect length for me. The trail follows the gradual rise in elevation through mature trees and then through regrowth from the 1985 Beaver Creek fire before coming to the lake. The Teton Peaks and some fall colored aspens were beautifully reflected on the lake surface, while our group of six and others snacked and rested on the shore surrounded by the exquisite beauty.

We had decided to hike back on the Beaver Creek trail instead of heading to Bradley Lake and as we were crossing the outlet bridge over Taggart Creek, we saw four moose in the shallow water. A large mature bull was trying to chase away a one-antlered small bull from the two cows. The grunting and snorting by the bull, along with the charging though the flooded marsh grass was successful as the smaller bull headed for the thick pines to hide.

As the winning bull was flirting with the cows, another young bull appeared where the creek entered a steep canyon. One of the cows ran toward it, causing the other cow and both bulls to follow it quickly out of sight down the creek.

“Wow – that was exciting!” exclaimed a tourist from North Carolina. “I have never seen anything like that.”

The tourist’s daughter and her husband from California visited with me about moose and their habits as we relived the experience. It was their first time seeing moose that close and they were impressed by the massiveness of the animals.

Hiking with teenage grandchildren can be very rewarding, adventuresome and fun. As we were hiking through the regrowth areas, I was able to introduce two of my eight grandkids to “bear-bum” trees that an uncle introduced to me over 60 years ago.

No, the trees were not formed by bears sitting on them, but by snow bending them when they were younger. These trees are crooked and if you find two of them near the same size, when put together, they can become the shape of a heart.

After finishing the 4.4-mile hike, we still had half a day left and decided to head to Signal Mountain and the Jackson Lake dam to see if we could find a bear. We were in luck as we saw about 100 photographers lined up on the north side of Snake River as it leaves the lake.

Old No. 399 was there with her four cubs, napping in the shade of the scattered pines. After a short wait, my family decided to head up to Colter Bay, leaving me to wait out the resting bears.

After an hour wait, the bears began feeding by digging up rodents in the same place that they did two weeks earlier when my friend, Wayne and I observed them.

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Because the sun was still hot, the bears remained in the shade of the mountain with the cubs, occasionally playing while mom kept digging. Many of the photographers are “bear followers” in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, spending days and weeks following bears. I visited with several people who had rented condos in Jackson and had been following the bears for up to six weeks. They worked remotely during the days but spent afternoons and occasional days looking for and following the bears.

It is amazing what stories you hear about No. 399 while waiting for the bears to wake up and start feeding again.

“She seems to have a four-day loop ‘cause the last day she was here was on Monday.”

“She is a fantastic mom as she has 16 kids and grandkids in the parks.”

“This spring on the cubs first swim across the river, one of them got too tired and was drowning and she ran down the shore, swam out and grabbed it.”

“It is a miracle that all four cubs have survived this long.”

My family came back and we watched the bears for another half hour before heading out looking for other animals – and to beat the 5 p.m. traffic from Jackson to Victor. Several herds of elk and antelope greeted us along the way.

A huge thanks to the people who fixed the Wilson-Moose Road. It is smooth and the holes have been filled. Also, at the Taggard-Bradley Trailhead the porta-potties are kept very clean and well stocked. Those things added to the enjoyment of our family enjoying another day in nature.

A couple more weeks of nice fall weather will give us enough time to enjoy a few for short hikes — just my size. Next time, we will include Bradley Lake in the hike.