It happened while we were resting.
It had been a long day with heavy backpacks and high tension.
The hike was suppose to be only a couple miles to a campsite nestled along the Yellowstone River. When we arrived at the river crossing, the water was fast, loud, and white. It was spring, and with the snow melt, the waters were too high to cross safely. Our couple mile journey to camp quickly became an all-day venture.
The backcountry of Yellowstone National Park is enchantingly beautiful and rugged. And spring is the wildest of it’s seasons. The trails are muddy, the waters are rushing, and the grizzly bears are active, hungry, and ready to protect their cubs.
My sense of awareness was heightened as we hiked along the river banks, anticipating danger at every intersection.
When we finally made it to camp, I could feel my whole body relax. I took off my backpack and slowed my breathing. Safety.
It was time for a much deserved rest. Our backs against a rock and our books in our laps. My friend fell asleep as I enjoyed the scenery. My bare feet stretched out into the sun, soaking in the fresh Wyoming air.
I heard it come from behind us.
Without thinking or breathing, I spun around. Terror coursed through my veins with a flash of brown fur.
Bear spray? Where’s the bear spray?
From 12 feet of distance, my eyes met the large brown eyes of a beast. I yelped and jumped back onto my feet. It jumped, eyes bulging. My friend next to me sprung awake, unaware of what was happening.
And with my first breath out, I gave a laugh. My entire body shook from adrenaline, fear, and relief.
A lone bison wondering through camp. He kept his eyes fixated on us as he circled wide, out and away.
All day long, I carried my anxieties and burdens expecting the worst. Only after I allowed myself to relax, did the unexpected happen.
Like Yellowstone National Park, life is enchantingly beautiful and rugged. As long as you put your anxieties down long enough to experience the journey.