Summer in Yellowstone

Andy Olson

Wisconsin, to Ted Greeley, is just too flat. So last spring, Greeley decided to head west to Wyoming to take a job as a caretaker at a resort and to do a whole lot of hiking. “I had never been out west, in the mountains,” Greeley remarked. For him, working in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming for the summer was the satisfaction of a whim.
Going into it, he didn’t really know what to expect. “I don’t want to say it ended up as a journey of personal discovery,” Greeley told me, “but I did do a lot of thinking, especially about my future. That and hiking.” A lot indeed: Greeley calculates that he hiked over 250 miles this summer. For those of you who are geographically challenged, that’s almost the distance between Appleton and Minneapolis.
During the course of his travails, Greeley saw a spectacular amount of wildlife — black bears, grizzly bears, foxes and bald eagles. “I didn’t see a mountain lion, but I did track one,” he reminisced.
Greeley even had several harrowing experiences with bears during his time in Wyoming. From him, I learned that there are several key factors to consider when assessing the situation during a bear encounter.
First, are you upwind or downwind of the bear? If you’re upwind, the bear should be able to smell you and a healthy bear will be afraid enough to flee. A bear that doesn’t flee is probably ill and more dangerous. Second, what season is it? Bears act very differently during mating season and can be unexpectedly aggressive then. Keeping these questions in mind is the key to bear safety.
Greeley, a senior government major, eventually wants to attend law school to study cyber crime. Though he wants to attend school in the Midwest, Greeley said he’d return to Wyoming any time. In a way, summer in Yellowstone helped him make decisions about his future, such as to attend law school, and where to do so. At any rate, Greeley definitely recommends a sojourn through the mountains to any student is search of time to think.