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Old 07-28-2010, 09:46 AM   #76
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Morrell Mountain

A side trip up Morrell Mountain. Nine miles from base to top.

Logging in the area.

Seems like the trees on top of these mountains (where there are trees) really take a beating. Some get much more gnarly than this.

I stopped on the road where they did this logging. I couldn't believe how steep the slope was. Hard to imagine logging it. Of course, pictures don't usually show steepness too well.

On the route of a side trip west from Ovando.

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Old 07-28-2010, 05:19 PM   #77
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Garnet Ghost Town

I took a side trip from Ovando to the ghost town of Garnet.

From the north, this 26 mile National Back Country Byway is a wide road.

This is an old stage stop. Keep in mind that a 15 mile stage trip from Coloma to Bearmouth took all day. When the route was completed, it improved travel speeds so much the newspaper referred to it as the "cannonball route".

In winter, buffalo robes were handy. Also, people heated bricks to set on the floor of the wagon to keep their feet warm.

This is a 1940s period fire watcher's cabin. It is now available for people to use.

I was reading some stuff when this mule deer silently walked up behind me. When I turned around and caught sight of brown fur in my peripheral vision, it gave me a start for a moment (until I saw the it was a deer).

Garnet is a ghost town tucked back in the hills that is remarkably well preserved and is a product of those seeking gold back in the day.

Unlike some of the other gunslinger type towns in the area, Garnet was pretty civilized. People brought their families and built homes instead of putting up shacks. Garnet had a union hall, barbershops, a mercantile, a hotel, and the like.

At one time about 1,000 people lived here. Without electricity or steam engines (using only hand tools) they took 60,000 ounces of gold, 50,000 ounces of silver, and 60,000 ounces of copper out of here.

By 1905, only 150 were left. A 1912 fire chased a bunch more out. In the 1930s the price of gold went up so the town grew back to about 250 until around WWII when it really went down.

The mercantile ran from 1898 -1947 when the owner died.

The hotel was pretty nice.

Miners at the union hall.

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Old 07-28-2010, 05:34 PM   #78
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Old 07-28-2010, 05:41 PM   #79
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Continuing along Bear Gulch.

When you go south out of Garnet, you take an interesting road that runs down Bear Gulch.

Someone struck gold in this gulch in 1866. About 2,000 people moved into the gulch immediately thereafter. I think about $7M in gold came out of there. By 1870 it was all over.

Riding along down the gulch.

Beartown was pretty tough. Once the bartender shot a miner for insulting his singing. The bartender missed the guy he was aiming at and killed the man's mining partner instead. Year around flowing water was scarce. Since they needed water to placer mine, they built reserviors to capture the spring melt and then carefully rationed out the water on a timetable for miners to run through their sluice boxes.

A miner got drunk and fell into his own fireplace severely burning his arm. A local doctor named Mitchell used to ride to the camps to treat people and he was promptly summoned arriving the next night. Mitchell was a pretty good doctor and was able to amputate the miner's arm in a bar room using whiskey as anesthetic. After he got the arm off he joined his patient and some others in an all night poker game. The next morning he rode back home, apparently still under the influence. He had taken the miner's arm with him when he left to dissect later. Somewhere along the way back home he lost it. Mitchell later helped found the AMA in Montana. He was a respected doctor.

On a related side note, I have been reading a book about frontier medicine. Kind of scary as it didn't take much for people to become a doctor back then. Around the time of Bear Gulch, the Army (whose doctors also treated people on the frontier) started testing doctors who wanted to become Army doctors. The testing would last about a week. In 1877 one group of 185 doctors took the test. Only 21 passed.

Secret Gulch had strict rules about claims. People got the standard claim, but if they tried to mess around and cheat anyone else claim-wise, the others would take the cheaters' claims and kick them out. Kept things civil I guess.

Down at the bottom of Bear Gulch, they ran this dredge through the creek to get gold. From 1939 to 1942 one company took out about 14,000 ounces of gold using this rig. It had dredging buckets that ran 43' down - sometimes cutting into old mine tunnels under the stream. It moved over 6,000 cubic yards of gravel a day.

The idea was to get gold that washed downstream from the deposits above. As soon as I came down this road and saw the big gravel piles along the stream, I recognized what had happened. I had seen this before in the Black Hills and near Atlantic City, WY.

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Old 07-28-2010, 06:58 PM   #80
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Old 07-28-2010, 08:54 PM   #81
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A side trip to the Missoula Smokejumper Base

I took a side trip to the US Forest Service smokejumper base in Missoula.

They have some exhibits that include a mock up of a lookout.

Early communication involved riding to make a report on horseback or on foot, using morse code with signal mirrors, and releasing homing pigeons. For 40 years, they relied on single strand #9 galvanized wire strung through the trees for phone service. Radios made it much easier to coordinate.

Early version of those headlamps we use.

Smoke jumper in jump gear. Tools are dropped later.

Wildland firefighter.

Wildland firefighters carry these shelters in case they are threated with being burned over. They can shake them out and get inside them in about 20 seconds. The shelter is made of fiberglass and aluminum. It can't take direct flames too long but it is designed to reflect heat up to 1,600 degrees. They are designed so that theoretically flames ride over the tent on a cushion of air. Temps inside are 150-200 degrees and from accounts I've read it is not a pleasant place to be. Human skin starts to "burn" at 131 degrees. One battle is to breathe a very thin layer of cool enough air and oxygen from the surface of the ground. Some survivors have had plastic buckles on their gear inside their shelter melt during a burnover.

If you dig around the USFS web sites, you can find a data base with accounts from people who survived being burned over in one of these shelters. In one book I read, some firefighters deployed their shelters in the face of a burnover while two civilians were trapped at the scene with no shelters. In the end the two civilians essentially forced their way into a young female firefighters shelter (amazing that they fit somehow) and all three survived in a single shelter. Sadly, in that group four firefighters in shelters did not survive. These shelters have saved at least 220 lives.

I appreciate the work wildland firefighters do. It is difficult and dangerous. I have read several books about fire events and find that in many ways wildland firefighting is similar to military operations in many respects. It is interesting to me to read about operations and systems that worked or failed to varying degrees. Sadly, mistakes or failures are sometimes fatal.

Edit: I mentioned a database of incidents. If you go here ( you can view a variety of events. Go to the "accident type" pull down and you get an idea of of the many tough situations that develop for wildland firefighters. You can browse for burnovers, entrapments, aircraft related incidents, shelter deployments, and many more tough situations.

Seems like there were 72 smokejumpers assigned here. Those that don't live here normally can stay in this dorm.

Smokejumpers make much of their own gear. They get good sewing things I guess. Is this an appropriate time to mentioned that about 1/3 of smokejumpers are women? Personnel parachutes come from commerical sourcres. Smokejumpers do make cargo chutes though.

At the beginning of the season jumpers use some system to develop a random order list for being called for fires. When a stick of jumpers is needed, the next group on the board go.

Jumpers need to be suited up and on the plane within 10 minutes.

After a jump, chutes need to be dried and inspected. They are suspended in this loft to dry.

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Old 07-28-2010, 09:07 PM   #82
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Missoula continued

Chutes need to be carefully packed by jumpers.

Chutes come in multiple sizes.

Having served as a paratrooper in the past, this parachute stuff is sort of interesting to me.

Tools are dropped from low altitude after the jumpers go out.

Fuel and water are also dropped.

Jumper meeting.

Various cargo packs. This one has sleeping bags, food, and a crosscut saw. By the way, all this stuff has to be carried out.

Food for two jumpers for two days.

Medical kit.

One of two jump planes at Missoula. This is a Sherpa. They also have a DC-3 that started off as a military C-47 and was upgraded throught the years to a turboprop DC-3.

Looking toward the rear. Jumpers on one side, gear on the other. Jumpers remain hooked up to the overhead cable for safety while enroute. When they jump, the connect to the short vertical cable in the back. This must be for structural or aerodynamic reasons that they change cables - perhaps having to do with trailing deployment bags and the tail?

They have a camera to record the jumpers as they go out. This lets the jumpers critique and continue to improve their body position over time.

This Sherpa is a hand-me-down from the Air Force. It used to fly F-16 and A-10 engines around Europe during the cold war. Many of the aircraft the USFS uses are leased.

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Old 07-29-2010, 09:00 AM   #83
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Back to Ovando and the GDR Track

I headed back east from Missoula to Ovando. I enjoyed a scenic side track on the way back.

Hell Gate is a narrow valley that indians had to pass through to get to the buffalo hunting grounds.

Competing tribes protective of their hunting grounds would ambush other tribes as they came through. With the narrow passage and wooded hillsides it was easy to do. They would leave the bodies of those killed lying about. When the French came through in 1820, they saw the remains of all this repeated carnage and named the place something like "the gates of hell" as that is what it reminded them of.

Around the time of the Civil War, the town of Hellgate started up just up the valley a bit. Once things got going some guys from the Henry Plummer gang moved into town and sort of terrorized people there. Henry Plummer was the Sheriff of Bannack and he secretly ran a gang that was responsible for a lot of murders and robberies. We'll cover more about him later. Anyway, Plummer would send agents (like the four guys sent to Hellgate) to gather intelligence on things of interest to the gang. Then they would plan and pull jobs based on what they learned. One member of the Plummer gang used to like to sit on top of the safe in the store. The safe contained about $65K in gold. This led people to believe the gang intended to rob the safe. Sick of all this BS, a group of 21 vigilantes showed up one day and grabbed the four gang members. After a quick trial in the store, they ripped a pole from the town corral, set it upright and hung two of the gang from it. Another was hung in a barn and the last from a tree outside the store.

An indian Chief's son murdered a prospector. Fearing retaliation from the whites, other tribe members forced the Chief to turn over his son to the towns people. After a quick trial he was hung as well.

Another guy, miffed that his wife had been insulted, shot and killed a guy at the tent where the couple lived. Two guys playing cards in a saloon got angry with each other and shot it out. The one that survived was arrested and later released. The saloon keeper was later shot and killed.

Eventually this nice town was abandoned and people moved to Missoula.

The track line I show that runs along the river is a nice ride. Very scenic.

Lots of people enjoying the river when I went through.

Back on the track in Ovando.

Ovando in 1880.

Gas is available there.

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Old 07-29-2010, 09:12 AM   #84
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Just so no one gets complacent . . .

You see a lot of bear aware signs and in some areas camping is restricted in that you may not use tents or pop-up campers.

This attack in a campground in the vicinity of the GDR happened yesterday. This is a rare event, but it is good to be reminded that these things do happen.

Bear Kills Camper, Injures 2 Near Yellowstone

July 28, 2010

At least one bear rampaged through a heavily occupied campground near Yellowstone National Park in the middle of the night, killing one person and injuring two others during a terrifying attack that forced people to hide in their cars as an animal tore through tents.

Authorities said three separate attacks left a man dead and a woman and another man injured at the Soda Butte campground in Cooke City, Mont. The woman suffered severe lacerations and crushed bones from bites on her arms, and the surviving man was bitten on his calf.

Wildlife officials did not release the names or ages of the victims.
Don and Paige Wilhelm of Aledo, Texas, were spending the night Tuesday in the campsite next to the woman.

"We heard a scream about 2," Don Wilhelm said. "We weren't sure what it was. We thought maybe teenagers yelling."

Paige Wilhelm added: "We heard a lady in the tent next door say 'no.' I said, 'Don, there's a bear,' and started hearing this snuffling. We heard her say, 'a bear has attacked me."'

The couple waited until they could no longer hear the animal breathing before running for their car. Don Wilhelm later helped bandage the woman's wounds.

Both survivors were hospitalized in Cody, Wyo.

The victims were in three different tents, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Capt. Sam Sheppard. Two of the tents were close to each other. The man who was killed was alone in a tent about a quarter-mile away in the heavily occupied campground that has 27 sites for tents and recreational vehicles, he said.

Campers throughout the site had their food in storage boxes, Sheppard said.

"They were doing things right," Sheppard said. "It was random. I have no idea why this bear picked these three tents out of all the tents there."
Wildlife officials were inspecting the campground to determine what happened.

"We don't know if it was one bear, two bears, a black bear or grizzly bear," Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said. "Obviously, the bear's gone now. Will it come back tonight? That's the question."

Authorities set five baited traps and were collecting bear hair, saliva and droppings while measuring the bite wounds of victims to determine the type and number of bears involved.

Park County dispatchers took a 911 call early Wednesday from a man reporting that a bear had bitten his ankle and was tearing up tents, Aasheim said. Dispatchers got two more calls, including one from a man who said a bear bit the leg of his daughter's boyfriend.

At 3:50 a.m., park officials went through the campground to advise campers to get into their cars. A half-hour later, the dead man was discovered at a campsite. Authorities evacuated the campground, sending campers to nearby hotels.

It was not immediately clear how many people were in the campground at the time.

The same campground was the site of a 2008 attack in which a grizzly bear bit and injured a man sleeping in a tent. A young adult female grizzly was captured in a trap four days later and transported to a bear research center at Washington State University in Pullman.

The 10-acre Soda Butte campground is located in Gallatin National Forest, some five miles from the northeastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park. It is located just off the mountainous Beartooth Highway about 125 miles southwest of Billings.

"It is a populated area for bears, not just grizzly bears but black bears," Gallatin National Forest spokeswoman Marna Daley said.

The campground, which is run by the U.S. Forest Service, has been closed, as well as two other nearby campgrounds, Daley said. Forest Service officials will consider closing more campgrounds after consulting with state wildlife officials leading the investigation, she said.
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:57 AM   #85
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Ovando to Lincoln

The blue track to the north is my track and is the current GDR track. As I mentioned earlier I included the Big Dog tracks (gray colored) on the maps as well since so many were familiar with them.

If you only casually look at the GPS track, you may try to turn too soon.

Just go down the road a bit more for the next turn beyond this one.

I encountered a lot of bicyclists on this stretch.

Looking back down from where I came.

Nice roads through here.

It was hot and the air is a little thinner here. When I passed some of these struggling cyclists I was glad to be on a motorcycle on these climbs.

Of all the animals I encountered along the road (antelope, elk, mule deer, sheep, etc) the most unpredictable were cattle. You never could really tell which way an individual animal was going to go as you approached.

Lincoln (MT) is where the Unabomber kept a cabin out in the woods.

He was arrested near here in 1996 after killing three and wounding 25 with his mailed bombs. His cabin was moved from the woods to the location of the trial.

Four time Iditarod winner Doug Swingley lives near here as well.
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Old 07-29-2010, 03:01 PM   #86
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Lincoln to Granite Butte

Again, the cyan track is mine (based on the Adv Cycling Route) and the gray track is from Big Dog's file.

The remnants of what were once mining towns are in the McClellan Gulch. Keep in mind that placer (pronounced "plasser") mining is sluice and pan sifting versus hard rock mining with mills.

Some of the pine trees are distressed. This is probably from a pine beetle infestation. Distressed trees create more fuel for fires. Part of the problem with the massive 1988 fires in this area. They attack ponderosa, lodgepole and limber pines, killing them by the boring and by introducing a fungus that kills the cells that move water in the tree. The lack of water kills the needles, turning them dark red.

These pix are from the split in the track that is marked "rocky and steep". It isn't bad at all, just less developed.

Big bikes might not like the loose rock on some climbs, but this is about as bad as it gets.

A few water holes/crossings on this route.

This was pretty easy to hop across on the left side.

Took a ride up to the Granite Butte Lookout.

Met three backpackers that were looking for water. Offered them mine.

Climb to the lookout.

Nice view.

The road back down.

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Old 07-29-2010, 03:59 PM   #87
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Scary about the bears.
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Old 07-29-2010, 05:37 PM   #88
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Granite Butte to Helena

You come across all kinds of things on these back roads.

The old Empire Mine millsite. Mills crushed ore into a sand like substance so that metals could be extracted.

Some spots along this section will present problems when wet.

This is the site of the 126 year old Mullan Pass railroad tunnel. At 13 feet, this is the narrowest tunnel around. Some cars only clear by inches. Right now they are working to upgrade the tunnel by making it five feet taller and three feet wider. Montana Rail Link's project is forecast to cost $18M. The tunnel is about 3,900' long. Word on the street is that when multiple power units were in the tunnel, some were degraded as they were "starved" for air.

On the 23d of July (shortly after I came through here), the tunnel suffered a rock slide as they were working on it. As they enlarge the tunnel they spray shotcrete on the walls to strengthen them. They were mining in the middle of the tunnel when it started to cave in. Rocks kept falling into the tunnel all night until it filled up. Now trains have been forced onto BNSF tracks as the tunnel is still blocked at this time. The good news is that track crews are getting a lot done since no trains are interrupting their work.

The 25th Infantry Division Bicycle Corps came through here at one time. In 1896 someone got the idea to mount troops on bicycles. These guys did some arduous trips to prove the concept. Their longest trip covered about 1900 miles to St. Louis.

Each rider carried a ten pound blanket roll made up of a shelter and poles, underwear, two pairs of socks, a hanky, and a toothbush/powder. Each man also carried bacon, bread, canned beef, coffee, and sugar in leather cases mounted on the frame. Loaded, the bikes weighed close to 60 pounds. Plus the rider had to carry a 10 pound rifle and a 50 round cartridge belt.

A forest fire burned near Helena.

Perhaps some of you have seen the movie The Devil's Brigade about a joint Canadian-US Army unit during WWII. The unit really did exist and they trained here outside Helena.

This location was close to the types of terrain and facilities they needed to train for their intended mission. These guys fought in the Aleutians, Italy, and southern France.

I went over to the airport to find the interagency coordination center for firefighting in the region. Turns out it is behind some fences and not accessible. I did run across the local forest headquarters though.

One version of a wildland fire truck.

National Guard aviators training at the airport.

The fire burned for a couple of days before they got a good handle on it.

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Old 07-29-2010, 07:48 PM   #89
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Oh man... don't know how you get any riding done with all those magnificent landscapes to photograph. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad one that a buddy sent me this thread... we just got serious about a CD trip but now we have to wait a year to make it happen I'll be curious to see your route through Wyoming, my family is in the N. Central part of the state.
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Old 07-30-2010, 07:58 AM   #90
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Follow up on grizzly attack.

Montana wildlife officials say they have captured the fourth and final grizzly bear believed involved in the fatal mauling of a Michigan man at a campground near Yellowstone National Park.

A sow and two of her three cubs had been trapped by Thursday. The final year-old cub was found in a culvert trap early Friday.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say the bears will likely be moved to the state wildlife lab in Bozeman while officials decide what to do with the animals. Results of DNA tests to determine if the bears were responsible for the attacks that injured two and killed Kevin Kammer of Grand Rapids, Mich., are expected Friday.

Warden Capt. Sam Sheppard says evidence indicates all three cubs likely participated in what he called a sustained attack.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

COOKE CITY, Mont. (AP) _ Wildlife officials expected DNA test results to confirm Friday that a captured grizzly bear and her three cubs were the animals that killed one camper and injured two others in a rampage that has set tourists in this Yellowstone National Park gateway community on edge.
Fibers from a tent or sleeping bag were in the captured bears' droppings, and a tooth fragment found in a tent appears to match a chipped tooth on the 300- to 400-pound sow. But officials say they will decide the bears' fate only after the test results are in.

"Everything points to it being the offending bear, but we are not going to do anything until we have DNA samples," said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim.

On Thursday, a day after the maulings at a crowded campsite, many in Cooke City carried bear spray, a a pepper-based deterrent more commonly seen in Yellowstone's backcountry than on the Cooke City streets.
Those who live in the small tourist town tucked in the picturesque Absaroka Mountains said during a community meeting Thursday night that they were jarred by the nature of the attack. But they also expressed concern about the fate of the cubs.

Officials have said the sow will be killed if DNA evidence confirms that it attacked the victims early Wednesday at the Soda Butte Campground, five miles from the entrance to Yellowstone. State and federal wildlife officials will decide what happens to the cubs, which are feared to have learned predatory behavior from their mother.

Two cubs were captured Thursday. But a third remained at large and officials said it could not be allowed to stay in the wild. The cub could be heard nearby through much of the day Thursday, calling out to its mother and eliciting heavy groans from the sow, which was captured first and then left in its trap to attract the offspring.

Montana wildlife officials identified the man killed as Kevin Kammer, 48, of Grand Rapids, Mich. The bear pulled Kammer out his tent and dragged him 25 feet to where his body was found, Aasheim said.

Messages left Thursday for Kammer's mother-in-law and brother-in-law in Michigan were not returned Thursday.

The two other victims, Deb Freele of London, Ontario, and Ronald Singer, of Alamosa, Colo., were hospitalized in Cody, Wyo. Singer was treated and released, and Freele was scheduled to have surgery Friday for bite wounds and a broken bone in her arm, said West Park Hospital spokesman Joel Hunt.
Singer, 21, and his mother, Luron Singer, did not immediately return e-mail messages from the AP. But Luron Singer told The Denver Post that her son, a former high school wrestler, had been camping with his girlfriend.
When he felt the bear biting his leg, he started punching the animal, she said. His girlfriend screamed, and the bear ran away.

"He is doing fine," Luron Singer told the Post. "He went fishing today."
Freele said she couldn't understand why the bear attacked her, because she posed no threat.

"If it was something that I had done _ if I had walked into a female with cubs, and startled her, and she attacked me _ I can understand that," she said. "She was hunting us, with the intention of killing us and eating us."
All the victims did the right thing, and there was no telling why the bear picked out those three tents, Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Capt. Sam Sheppard said.

"She basically targeted the three people and went after them," he said.
Evidence at the campground suggested the three cubs were present and likely participated at least in the fatal attack.

In 2008 at the same campground, a grizzly bear bit and injured a man sleeping in a tent. A young adult female grizzly was captured in a trap four days later and taken to a bear research center in Washington state.
Cooke City resident Cliff Browne, 70, said living in proximity to grizzlies is part of life and he didn't expect to change his routines because of the attacks.

"You can't live in fear," he said. "It's not going to change my going out hiking."

About 600 grizzly bears and hundreds of less-aggressive black bears live in the Yellowstone area. The grizzlies are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

"Something woke me up, and a split second later, I felt teeth grinding into my arm," Deb Freele of London, Ontario, said from her bed at a Wyoming hospital. "I realized, at that split second, I was being attacked by a bear, but I couldn't see it.

"It was behind me and I screamed. I couldn't help it it's kind of like somebody else was screaming," she told The Associated Press. "And then it bit me harder, and more. It got very aggressive and started to shake me."
She kept screaming but then realized that if she didn't do something, she was going to die.

"I decided at that point, the only other thing I knew to do was to play dead, and I just went totally limp, got very quiet, didn't make a sound. And a few seconds later, the bear dropped me and walked away," she said.
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