In a week my mother and I will be headed to our nation’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park, for vacation. We will not be staying in the park itself, but at a bed & breakfast in Jackson Hole, which is about an hour outside of the park’s south entrance. The reason we are not staying in the park, is I was unable to get reservations in time for one of the lodges and I’m not going to sleep in a tent. I like nature and hiking but at the end of the day, I want a nice comfy bed to sleep in, a hot shower and fully functioning bathroom. We do plan on going on several hikes through the park, mostly the main sights like Old Faithful, the Paint Pots and other points of interest. We are not planning on doing long hikes through the back country. We also will be spending sometime in Jackson Hole.
In preparation for the trip I have bought a few things, convertible pants, a travel tripod, water repellent spray, bug spray, a bear bell and bear repellent I bought the pants because the weather is indicating it is in the 30’s in the morning and reaching the 70’s by afternoon. So the pants are great because I zip sections off to convert them to shorts if need be. The travel tripod was a birthday gift; it is small enough to fit in a backpack but will still hold a full body DSLR and lens. I bought the water repellent spray to water proof my backpack, because it never fails it rains at least once on my vacations and I’m not going to let a little rain stop me. The bug spray, well that is obvious. Now you may be thinking, “why the bear bell and the bear repellent if you’re not hiking in the back country?” My philosophy is I rather have it and not need it then need it and not have it. Also the parks websites and several Yellowstone hiking websites recommend it, even though bear attacks are rare. I know most people are in the mindset that bears mostly stay away from people, avoid the heavy tourist areas and don’t attack unless provoked but I figure caution is the best course of action. Plus I doubt I’m going to run into Yogi Bear or Humphrey the bear from the cartoons, who are just after my picnic basket. You may be thinking, “Don’t they have signs warning you about bear activity?” Yes they have signs but unfortunately bear can’t read.
So what is bear bell and bear repellent? A bear bell is a large bell you are supposed to wear to make noise to alert the bears of your presence so they are not spooked when you enter their territory. While this is a great it does tent to scare off the other wildlife that I do want to see. Mind you I highly doubt it is going to scare a bison off. Now bear repellent is basically a highly concentrated form of mace. The spray has a high concentration of capsaicin (2% or greater of mixture) and shoots a distance of 30 feet or more. You are supposed to use it if a bear charges you, it will distract and irritate the bear so he goes off in another direction, then you are supposed to leave the area. The main purpose of the spray is to provide you enough time to get to a safer location.