Among the many trails in Yellowstone, Pelican Valley has a reputation as major grizzly bear territory.
|Pelican Valley trail head and its many postings|
So after learning how and when to use it you loop your bear spray canister onto your belt, grab a buddy or two, and head out down the trail, always aware of what’s going on around you.
|High, wide, and lonesome of Pelican Valley|
I came out to Pelican Valley with hiking buddy Brian one late August morning towards the end of our respective 2013 summer rangering season. I knew that several of his ranger talks focus on the history of Yellowstone, and this valley played a major role in that history. Brian needed to channel his hero Felix Burgess and the bison of an earlier Yellowstone one more time before leaving. I was along for the scenery.
|Monkshood (Aconitum columbianum)|
Except for a smallish wooded area at the beginning of the trail, this part of Yellowstone is high, wide and lonesome and open to the big blue sky.
The trail crossed a grassy stream that drained into a small pool. Mudstone cobbles hung like knickknack shelves in its gritty walls.
|Brian ponders the mud and rocks in an unnamed pool|
Even this late in the high country summer, wildflowers thrived in the damper ground.
|Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis crinita)|
My favorite part of the Pelican Valley is this abandoned meander of Pelican Creek. There were hundreds of ducks bobbing about and I wanted to run down the hill and jump in the water and join them.
|Abandoned meander of Pelican Creek|
Our goal was Astringent Creek where the epic of Felix Burgess unfolded in the early days of the Park. We would first have to cross Pelican Creek without benefit of a bridge which was washed out in a flood and not replaced.
|The water of Pelican Creek was actually refreshing!|
We continued on across the wide expanse, skirting any behemoth bison we found grazing along the trail…
|The 50-million year old Absaroka Range is a constant reference in Pelican Valley|
…and found our way to Astringent Creek, about a mile further on from the remnant bridge.
|Taking in the view at Astringent Creek|
|Fording Pelican Creek without falling in was pretty easy!|
…and soon said our farewell to the spirit of Felix Burgess, the bison of Yellowstone, and the high lonesome sky of Pelican Valley.
We never did see any grizzly bears.
|Brian and Pelican Valley|