So that left bears. In Wyoming, were I live, I have to tell you we hear about bears in Yellowstone that are so used to human presence that they check out campgrounds intentionally to find food. Earlier this year , one man was attacked at a campground a few miles north of Yellowstone, who had no food out and had not even cooked at his site. The bears just come around because they expect food to be there.
When we got to Kennedy Meadows, I assumed with all the cows around that there wouldn't be any bears. I mean, they'd eat the cows, right? And that'd be bad for business, so no one would graze cows around bears, right?
Brian had told me he saw a big bear print on the trail when we rode in. There are so many tracks on the trail, though, from people, cows, horses, coyotes, and such, that I really thought he saw some combination of prints that LOOKED like a bear track, but was not. I should not have doubted him, because I saw very distinct bear tracks for myself when my grandpa and I were walking back from a fishing excursion (see above). There was a set of six bear prints on the main trail, and they were unmarred by any other tracks, so that meant they had been made in the last few hours. And, they were only a half-mile from our camp.
You would think that would be enough to keep me awake all night, scaredy-cat that I am, but because they were headed in the opposite direction from our camp, I rationalized myself to sleep.
The next day we went fishing around Kennedy Lake(that's it there, in the above photo), in the opposite direction from where we had been the previous day. I got off the main trail a bit, on a side trail that became a tiny little waterfall. I saw my husband a few yards below me on the hillside, so I backtracked down the muddy slope, holding on to branches to steady myself. And that's when I saw the second, textbook perfect bear track, embedded in the wet mud. I wish I could have pulled out my camera but there was no way to keep my balance.
Now I know bears in the wild avoid humans. And we were in a 'wilderness area.' But we did see enough other campers and hikers (only a couple a day, but the season was winding down) to make me wonder if we were enough of an anomaly to a bear for them to avoid. And seeing as we were surrounded - bears to the east and bears to the west - I would lay in my sleeping bag and envision a large animal snuffling the tent. That never happened, but I slept very little during the night for the rest of the week.