We found places to hike I’m reluctant to share — we were the only people on the trails, and you know how we love our solitude when we’re in the woods (or desert or by the ocean or pretty much everywhere).
But maybe because most people go to Henrys Lake for the fishing (rather than hiking), or maybe because they’re ATVers (rather than hikers), we didn’t cross paths with other people on this particular stretch of mountain.
Maybe it’s because the trailhead (from our starting point, anyway) was 5-10 miles up a rough dirt road. If you’ve driven these sort-of-maintained roads, you know it can take twenty minutes or so to go that distance, even on a perfect day. But it’s worth the drive to feel alone in the world and so close to nature!
Being close to nature in this neck of the woods means being in bear country…
…and keeping the GPS loaded with fresh batteries:
Not too far along the trail, we saw distinct signs that we were not alone:
These bear claw marks and the broken sign were clear signals that we were in grizzly territory, and the fresh pieces meant the damage had been done recently.
You might think the woods weren’t dense, but I knew a bear could outrun us even if we were at top speed on our bikes going downhill, which we weren’t. A bear could cover this short clearing in no time:
So we made noise, kept our eyes open, and watched for bear tracks. Didn’t see any of those, but we did see plenty of elk and deer prints like this one.
Geared up as I get when we hike, I soon added bear spray to my pack!
Eventually we reached this gorgeous mountain stream…
…and Bob considered crossing over via this log bridge…
…which was trickier than it first appeared because of the water rushing over it:
We learned on our Colorado River rafting trip some years ago (when Ellen fell into a branch of the river during a side canyon hike) how fast and cold water like this can be. So we decided this fast-running creek was as good a place as any to turn around and head back.
And yes, if you recognized the signs (despite the bear damage), you’ve figured out we were hiking along a stretch of the Continental Divide…
…the habitat not only of bears but wolves and coyotes, too!
Which are these? Not even my autographed copy of Scats and Tracks in North America helped me… maybe I should follow the book’s directions and stop measuring tracks with my shoe and start using a small ruler!