Last year we took a hike around the Taggert Lake trail and this year we invited our neighbors to join us. We told them of the beauty of the trail, and also told them of the elk bugling and the possibility of seeing bears as we drove the Moose-Wilson road.
They offered to drive as they needed to drop their dog off at the doggy day care center, (dogs are not allowed to hike the trails due to the danger of them attracting a bear). It’s a good rule! Arriving early, the parking lot was barely half full as we donned our day packs, binoculars and cameras.
The first part of the hike is the steepest part. We both had our Fitbits on, and we were pleased to see that we did not exceed our maximum heart rate goal. However, we did stop for images and took rest breaks as we climbed the steep trail. Our friends kindly waited for us even though we told them they could go ahead.
Cresting the old terminal moraine, formed by the glacier that once filled the valley, we passed through a field of boulders including one glacial erratic that was a perfect example of gneiss, (pronounced “nice”). Our friends had taken a raft float on the Snake River and their boat guide had told them the story of gneiss. Becky actually correctly identified it and brought it to our attention.
Passing thought a forest of lodgepoles pines and a few aspens we reached Taggert Lake. There were some people that had beat us to the lake, but we took turns with them poising on rocks with the Grand Teton in the background. A sign that Becky spotted told us that the lakes elevation was six thousand nine hundred feet.
Renita spotted a moose across the lake, perhaps it was Becky and while it was a long way, we could see it easily with the binoculars, (do you notice a pattern as Becky and Renita are the nature interpreters on this trip). A reddish hooded merganser splashed across the lake, they are great fish birds, oblivious to the people lining the shores.
We crossed the bridge at the mouth of Taggert Lake and sat down for a bit before deciding we would hike a little further before eating lunch. A few switchbacks remained before we crested the trail and Fred took a great picture of us surrounded by the fall foliage.
As we started down the trail a couple passed us going the opposite way. They said there was a bear ahead and that the bear was eating berries, (not that it mattered they were choke cherries). Renita followed me as I hurried to a hill while our friends continued down the trail. We should have followed them.
Renita heard them say, “Bear”, and she went back seeing the black bear as it went up and over the hill. I only caught a glimpse of the rear end of the bear.
Looking up from his camera, he realized the bear was only ten feet away. Fred stood up, he is a tall man, and the bear swerved off the trail. It was a two-year old black bear and heading for Taggert Lake, it crossed the wooden bridge. Another couple came down and showed us the video she had taken of the crossing.
We ate lunch in the berry patch and were treated to hearing the elk bugling. I was happy now with my hearing aids as I could clearly hear them. Becky pointed out the high grassy park where they seemed to be, but we couldn’t spot them, (a grassy mountain area surrounded by forest is called a park).
The rest of the hike was uneventful, and we talked about how lucky we were to see a bear on a trail. I congratulated Fred on his close encounter with the bear, it was not planned, and told him he now had another story to share for the rest of his life. Reaching the truck, we loaded up and headed for the Moose-Wilson Road.
The road was open and after walking along the Moose Pond, no moose or bears, we were told that a bear was just around a bend in the road. The rangers were directing traffic and there was no place to stop as a black bear cub climbed high up in a tree while its mom was eating berries in the brush below. I gawked took long and all I got was an image of the cub I the dense trees.
Driving further we saw cars backed up, it was another bear jam. This jam was caused by a cinnamon black bear, (a black bear with a light brown coat), unloading away from the bear we walked along the roadbed and reached several people who told us that the bear was behind a small copse of trees.
It was a little while before the bear became visible and I took a poor image of the bear as it was partially hidden. The bear suddenly charged toward us, it moved really fast and I froze too long before taking a picture. It was a bluff charge and the bear stopped as the ranger prepared his bear spray. Luckily the bear retreated into the trees and decided to go another way.
Fred went and got the truck but we never did get a good image of the bear. It didn’t matter as it had been a great day of wildlife watching! Anytime you see four bears and a moose you know the day was really special. Maybe next time I will get a good image of a bear. Clear skies