I recently went backpacking in the Uinta Mountains. It’s a range of gorgeous peaks close to my home in Park City, Utah. A group of friends planned to spend a few days in the backcountry, so we got together to discuss everything we’d need for the trip. We had a lot of experience hiking and camping in this area, and we talked about a lot of things. But one subject never came up: bears.
Bears do exist in the Uintas, and we know it, but they’re rare. I’ve taken other trips, to the Teton Range and to Yellowstone, and plans always included the possibility of bears because they’re more common there. On this particular trip, however, we didn’t think about it.
We started the 11-mile hike into our campsite, and about four miles in, we came upon a park ranger riding a horse and towing a pack mule called Erma (the ranger called her Erm). We stopped to chat about the weather, and our friendly ranger mentioned offhandedly that someone had seen a bear a few days earlier. She didn’t mention the exact location, where the bear was headed or give us any kind of warning. She was just a ranger who happened to mention a bear during a conversation.
Read the rest of the article on The New York Times.