It has been a week and a half since anyone has seen grizzly 610 or her mom 399. Temperatures have been cold for a while, well below freezing, but the bears have been taking full advantage of elk and bison gut pules left by hunters in Grand Teton National Park. They must have had their fill and decided den up for winter. It was a shame I was not able to see the bears since getting back to the area. I arrived on a Friday afternoon and searched for them till dark before even finding out where I was going to be living. I had to work the next five days straight sun up to sun down. Many people were saying the bears were still out which was torture since I could do nothing about it. As soon as I got a day off I unsuccessfully searched for them. I had off Monday of this week so I went in search of them despite hearing they had not been seen for six days. I figured the best spot to find them is near where the denned.

My friend Suzy took this photo. I wish I would have taken some but instead I was worried about getting unstuck.

As I understand it, no one knows exactly where they den up for winter but 399 is back off Pilgrim Creek Road so thats where I went. The road was just groomed with no barriers on the groomed section and the snow only looked a few inches deep, nothing the Subaru couldn’t handle. I drove up on the snow and got out to check and make sure I was not sinking in. Nope, good to go. I drove about a mile down on the road when I thought, this is stupid, I am going to get stuck. I stopped, backed up and began to turn around when it happened. My two front tires and passenger rear broke through at noon and I wasn’t going anywhere. I was worried a ranger would see me and write me a ticket so I worked as fast as I could to get out. I dug out the snow with my hands, I didn’t have a shove, and tried to get traction. Big fail. Then I got the idea to lay down my Carhartt bibs to drive on and get traction. It worked a little bit but not good enough. I eventually jacked up my car, put my bibs, a vest I had, all four of my floor mats and whatever else I could find under all four tires to back out. Success… Well that was short lived. I had a mile to back out and I got stuck about twenty feet back. The snow softened with the afternoon sun and there was no way out without help. My phone was beeping at me because my battery was almost dead so I called Teton National Park dispatch.

Dispatch told me they were sending out a ranger so I asked who it was. She said Chris. I was relieved because there are some rangers with huge ego’s and Chris is not one of them. I met him at the road and hopped into his truck to go back and pull my car out. His truck nearly got stuck right away so he decided it would be best get some snowmobiles. I took his shovel and dug out my car while he got the sleds. He came back with another ranger I didn’t know and we pulled my car out with ease. My neck got sore looking back while driving the mile in reverse but I made it out… three hours later.

I wanted to buy them a case of beer but they said buy them a drink at the bar if I run into them. I couldn’t believe I didn’t get a ticket. Chris said that it was 50% my fault and 50% theirs for not having the road blocked off. The signs they use to block the road were just to the left of where I entered. I probably shouldn’t have gone back but I am glad I did. It was worth the story.

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