Stand tall and stand together

A few weeks ago, we hiked up into a wild and lonely part of Yellowstone.  It was a day that is the absolute definition of perfection.  It rained and rained, giant sheets of rain, washing us free.

We scrambled in the rain up a steep hillside to catch a glimpse of a beautiful waterfall.  We carefully helped each other down and played in the rushing stream.

Then we changed course and hiked the steep switchbacks up to a lost little lake, in a valley just wide enough to hold the lake.  It was ringed with lily pads which had just bloomed that week.  They were a rare treat to see, and worth the effort.

(dang cell phone pics that couldn’t capture the amazing flowers!!)

Taking in our victory was short-lived, however.  All around the ground, everywhere by the water, was grizzly scat.  Everywhere.  I was prepared with bear spray, but no one wise wants to invite an encounter.  I wasn’t surprised.  Grizzlies are often in these areas right now, emerging with cubs and enjoying the abundance of food.

So, we very briefly took in the wonder of the place, but knew that it didn’t belong to us right then.  As we prepared to retreat, there were some nerves from my girls.  We are surrounded by higher hills and some steep slopes, all densely wooded.  A bear could easily descend on us without much warning, and as the lake took up the whole valley, there were very little options about where to go.

We sang loudly as we calmly walked back out.  But most of all, I told my girls to “stand tall and stand together.”  The bigger  (and calmer) we looked, the less likely we were to invite an encounter.  We retreated calmly back out of the valley and had no trouble.  We enjoyed a rainy hike back down the mountain, and two little fawns walked down with us.  I think they liked the girls’ singing, which had become soft and sweet by that time.

“Stand tall and stand together…” It was just a phrase that came out of my mouth at the time, but all the way down the mountain, I thought of it over and over.  If my girls can do that, I think that they will be able to have the strength to face whatever comes for them.

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