Saturday, September 22, 2018

Hiking to Taggert Lake, (and Bradley), and A Fall Bear

After our warm up hike, our next goal was to hike the Taggert and Bradley Trails. Renita and I planned on just trying to complete the Taggert Trail, while Jen and Eric figured they would also do the Bradley Lake Loop.
We started up the trail and at first it was easy going but as the trail steepened Renita and I slowed down. Before too long we had to take a break and rest and Jen and Eric disappeared around a bend. It was obvious that we couldn’t stand their pace, but we still tried to keep up with them.
 The first part of the trail was steep, for us anyways, but we plodded on, putting one step after another.  As we walked we looked for berries, a sure-fire bear attractant, but we never did spot any. One false crest after another appeared but we at least we knew we were nearing the top of the moraine, (this hike is up a terminal moraine formed as an alpine glacier piles rock at its snout).
Cresting the moraine, the lake appeared and reaching the shore we were rewarded with the beauty of a small glacial lake. The lakes are often colored by rock flour, dust made by a glacier, but this lake was clear as many lower alpine lakes are.
Jen and Eric decide to head up the Bradly Lake trail, but we stopped for lunch before continuing the three-point four-mile loop. As we sat and ate our lunch a mature bald eagle flew over, adding a wildlife viewing dessert to our cold lunch meat sandwiches.
After lunch we headed up a short and small but steep series of switchbacks that crested on a ridge. From there the trail plunged downhill. Taking it slow, I have sometimes rolled my ankle, the trail met a small clear mountain stream. That part was called the Beaver Lake trail and it wound through a series of glades.
It was almost all downhill and so we really enjoyed the easy hike. We were glad we hadn’t taken the left fork as it would have been a long uphill climb. Renita heard elk bugling in the distance, but my hearing is really getting bad and I couldn’t hear them.
We never did see any berry patches, but we were still glad we were carrying bear spray. A hunting guide was mauled and killed just outside the park last week and so there is a lot more concern about bear safety for many of the park visitors.
Reaching the trail head, we listened to a park interpreter explain a recent encounter with a black bear. He told people to not use their bear spray unless he told them to spray! Last year a person tried to spray a bear and didn’t pay attention to the wind. You can guess what happened as the spray blew right back into the people.
Jen and Eric arrived, they had successfully completed the Bradley Lake Trail, and loading into the car we headed back toward the park entrance. We drove the Moose Wilson road and first stopped at a small pond. As we walked along a short trail Eric noticed movement and was the first one to spot a cow moose charging out of the forest canopy.
It waded into the pond and before long a calf must have gotten the all clear signal from its mom and came out running to join her. With the increase in bear and wolves the moose and elk must be constantly vigilant!
We also noticed a group of people staring in the same direction and joining them, they pointed out a huge bull moose. It was laying down just inside a tree line and was closely watching us. The bull moose had a huge rack and you really had to look close to see it at all.
(the black bear is only about twenty yards away, if you magnify the image you can see its face, this is why its so easy to walk up on a bear and not notice it) One of the people asked us if we had seen the bear and returning to the car we headed down the road. Sure enough, two seasonal park volunteers were guiding traffic past a black bear. It was laying on its back and pulling down branches. The branches were full of dried hackthorn berries.
(There is a huge moose laying down in the above image, look for the paddle!)The bears right now are in a hyperphagia feeding frenzy as they try to eat twenty thousand calories a day. This is their last chance to put on the fat layers necessary before hibernation. It was the first time this fall we had encountered a black bear!
It had been a great day with a fun hike, sightings of three moose and a black bear. What a great day in Grand Teton National Park! Clear skies

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. Hiking with family and celebrating a birthday together, doesn't get much better than that.