The Devil Wins…Again

82ECF84F-56DC-4496-B0D9-4185AFE10F6FThat little devil came again.  You know the one I’m talking about, the one that sits on your shoulder and convinces you to push the “sarcastic jerk” button…

…or…err…tell me that’s not just me…


I went to a trailhead this morning, intending to do a short (6-8 mile) hike before settling down to write for the rest of the day.  I set out, but I forgot it was Saturday.  Saturday…in July…in freaking Yellowstone.  Now, look, you all know my, umm, distaste* for crowds on the hiking trails.  It took just one look at all those cars lining the road and pullout near the trail I wanted to hike for me to shake my head, turn around, and decide a bit of off-trail travel seemed like a REALLY good idea just then.

*It’s a whole lot like my “distaste” for syphilis, as a matter of fact.

I didn’t do a whole lot of off-trail travel, I should explain.  And I certainly didn’t go into any of the deeper, more inaccessible areas that I truly love.  No, I still was focused on a short two-hour stint to stretch my legs and get my brain working.  Up and down a few hills, across a couple of seasonal streams…even a bit of tramping through an annoying bog…

012699CA-BFDF-4B16-9403-E0F559F8F579…oh, and, by the way: FUCK MOSQUITOES!  Those little bastards just powered right through the damned spray I put on before I set out.  Harrumph!!

Anyway, I didn’t have a goal for this hike.  I was just wandering aimlessly.  I did, when you get right down to it, my best impression of a normal bison: “Hmm, that looks good over there, I think I’ll just wander that way.”  “I’m bored with this side of the stream, what’s it like on the other bank?”  “I’m still hungry — and horny — so let’s try the far side of that hill.”

I crested said hill, and that’s when the little devil popped out.

Okay, so the little devil never actually goes away for me, but usually he’s quiet enough to let me be at least it a little bit civilized and polite.

This time, however, sarcastic jerk was just too tempting…

There they were, below me: a small bison herd snacking and napping at the base of the hill…and a giant tourist herd bison-spotting and selfie-ing on the road just past the poor bison.

Angel: “Be nice!  You live here, you get to see and do things they don’t.  They just don’t know any better.  Go back and around the bison — like you’re supposed to! — then you can go onto the road and teach them about the wildlife and the really good places to see them.”

Devil: “Fuck that!  Walk out right through the herd and laugh at all their expressions!”

Ummm…score one for the devil.

Mommy, What’s Does “Carnivore” Mean?

“Hey, look, it’s a 750-pound grizzly!  Let’s go take selfies with it!”

“Predator, what do you mean ‘predator’?  They wouldn’t let these things in the park if they were dangerous!”

I know it makes my current job & surroundings rather ironic, but can I tell you just how much I actually hate tourists?

I have to admit to a small, inner, evil part of me that wants to see a 2,200 pound bison launch a 160 pound tourist into next year.  I won’t go so far as to say I want to see a grizzly give that same moron a taste of claws and teeth, but…well…

There’s a book up here, one of the few that the staff read even more avidly than the visitors: “Death in Yellowstone”.  Of course, we read that book not so much to learn, but because it’s basically a bingo game to see just how many of the fatally stupid screw-ups we’ll witness in any given month.

“Oh look, a dad with a toddler on his shoulders, standing on the lip of a 200+ degree mineral pool — BINGO!!”


Never mind.

I don’t want to talk about tourists.  I don’t even want to think about tourists.  Nope, I wanna get on to the bit about writing.

Writing about tourists.

Err…maybe not.


Crap, I can’t get my mind off the idiots!  That’s what I get for trying to write a blog post right after leaving the store…

Can I point out some of the questions I’ve answered, just today?

No, I’ve never petted a bear…and, yes, I have been within ten feet of one — and I was scared shitless every single time that happened.

No, we don’t “turn off” the geysers at night.

No, the animals don’t get cold when it snows.

Yes, wolves really do weigh two-hundred pounds…and, yes, they really do kill.  The words “predator” and “carnivore” aren’t just marketing copy.

I agree, bear cubs are adorable.  Their 700-pound, frightened mother, on the other hand, is considerably less “cute”.

What in the park scares me the most?  Tourists.  After that?  Cougars.  At least you know when a bear or wolf is gonna try to eat your ass — with a cougar, your first clue is blinding pain…and then your very own entry in “Death in Yellowstone”.


Welcome to my life.

Thankfully, I do get good questions, too — from time to time — and that makes it far more worthwhile:

The coolest thing I’ve ever seen?  A bear and a wolf eating the same carcass, at the same time…without trying to kill each other.  It ain’t supposed to be possible, but we have actual film…

The toughest animal?  One particular young male wolf…he had his jaw shattered by a kick from an elk, and he kept going.  He was in blinding pain, but he kept going.  He even managed to bring down more elk to feed himself.  That was one tough bastard.

What would I never do again?  You mean besides walk through the home den of an adult male grizzly?  I’ll never, ever touch the Avalanche trail again so long as I live.  It might be only two miles each way, but what that little line on the map doesn’t show you is the four thousand feet of elevation gain over those two miles.  No thank you…

6FB600EF-C19C-4B59-9867-90E4E8D19FB6Closed trails?  Restricted access?  No, I would NEVER consider doing things like that…**cough*cough**…that would be wrong!  **cough*cough**  Excuse me, I just remembered, I have to do a thing, over there in a place…I think I hear someone calling me…

EDA2211F-0586-4596-BCB3-8091F6A6FE60I can’t stand to write about how stupid the tourists any longer…so I’m gonna go out and do some stupid things of my own!