Into the Wild

Camping deep in Yellowstone Park’s backcountry-

Although titled after the movie about the young man who perished in Alaska’s Wilderness, this feature is by a man who ventured into the Park’s deep backcountry. For those of us who have done this multiple times, such as myself, this is hardly extraordinary, but for those who haven’t the account may be quite interesting.

Into the Wild. By William Powers. Special to The Washington Post







  1. Clark Avatar

    It would seem that those who have perished when in back country are those who lost sight of where they are in the food chain. Unarmed, we are no match for a large wild animal, such as a bear, elk, buffalo, or other wild animal.

    Interesting I should spot your entry, while watching a show on Tim Tredwell, who spent years studing bears, only to perish in the wild.

  2. Virginia Avatar

    Great story – but my experience has been if you are looking for them you never see them. It is when you least expect to see one, they seem to materialize.

  3. SAP Avatar

    “the two bottles of beer that Jason had concealed among rocks in the icy stream at the trailhead, promising those cold ones as our reward if we came back alive.”

    Ugh. Does Jason Williams of JH Wildlife Safaris know this is a food storage violation? Maybe he should have actually paid attention to the video YNP forced him to watch.

  4. SAP Avatar

    “You’re not wearing deodorant, are you?” he [Jason Williams of JH Wildlife Safaris] asked bluntly across the campfire. “Because grizzlies have an acute sense of smell. Even a tube of lip balm can lure them to a campsite in search of food.”

    Yes, and they might even get curious about those bottles of beer in the creek back at the trailhead. Flout the regulations, then scare your guest with tales of horror about lip balm drawing bears into campsites?

    Yes, I understand that Brigitta Fredenhagen had some Chap Stick in her tent. I am extremely skeptical that Chap Stick got her killed though — it was being asleep, alone, right along a heavily used bear trail that got her killed.

  5. Cordell Avatar

    More pearls of wisdom:
    re. bear spray – “It’s better to look away,” Jason said. “Then you might not fire prematurely.”

    – Jason, however, did the opposite: He walked toward the bear.

    re. unfiltered stream water – “I’ve been building my resistance by drinking a little more each time.”

    Maybe Jason “owner of JH Wildlife Safaris” should be a little less concerned about his “castration” by the ranger and more concerned about the example he is setting for this client.
    Then again, that wouldn’t have helped garner an “Ed Abbey” comparison. Gee he sounds sooo cool.

  6. Barefoot2k Avatar

    If your traveling in bear county I hope you brought some quality bear mace. I always suggest having it on hand when out in the bush. Usually just avoiding bears is enough but sometimes you want the spray if you get caught in a bad situation!

    By the way congratulations on the great blog, I’ve been a long time subscriber! If you add me to your blog list I’d be honored!



Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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