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Trail Updates (2)

Thursday July 2/98

Another update so soon? Well, it's more a function of us typing slow than walking fast. Now we're caught up and have the system figured out expect to receive an update about once every 2 or 3 weeks.

This is the second of 9 updates from the trail journals and community halls of the Yellowstone to Yukon Hike - a 2200-mile trek from Y to Y with more than 50 stops to deliver presentations and talk to the media about the visionary initiative to maintain a system of connected parks and reserves in the wild heart of North America.

June 21-July 2, 1998, Bozeman to Townsend, Montana, 130 kms

Our route left the Bozeman area via the Bridger Mountains. Walking the crest of the snowy ridge of Saddle Peak on the only sunny day of the trek thus far, afforded views down to the surrounding valleys and adjacent ranges. From a wildlife movement perspective, the Bridgers are skinny and are flanked much more tightly by agriculture, country homes and clearcuts than the much broader Gallatine Range to the south that we followed into Bozeman over a week ago. And, before we got to the Bridgers we had to cross the Interstate 90 - a four lane highway and railway link between Bozeman and Livingston that has high enough traffic volumes and surrounding residential development to be of concern to wildlife scientists and managers.

According to those we talked with, grizzly sightings are rare in the Bridger range, and although we ran into a black bear sow with two newborn cubs scampering up a tree, we saw absolutely no sign of grizzly bears. The area seems rich in bear foods though, with huge fields of glacier lily, spring beauty, cow's parsnip, plentiful patches of blueberry and service (Saskatoon) berry bushes along the mountain slopes, and whitebark pine stands throughout the subalpine.

Photo Below:   Karsten being careful on one of 19 barb wire crossings. 

(June 21-July 2 stretch)

barbed wire fencesAbout half of our route through this section crossed private lands - huge ranches of rolling hills draped with great stands of Douglas Fir on their northern slopes and in the clefts of their draining creeks and draws . We contacted and sought permission from four of the five landowners to cross their lands, and all but one of them were told the reasons behind our hike and seemed supportive of the idea. In all, we crossed barbed wire fences 19 times, encountered 100's of cattle, but saw only two people and one occupied dwelling. There is much hope of retaining the habitat and movement value of these lands for wildlife. We saw abundant sign of black bear, coyote and mountain lion, and commonly spooked herds of elk that numbered more than fifty.


The Sunday morning we left from Bozeman, the daily paper ran a front page story on Y2Y and the Hike. By the time we reached Helena, the story had been sent over the Associated Press wire service and had been picked up by the Helena Independent Record and the Missoulian. Yesterday (July 1), the Helena Independent Record ran another front page article on the Initiative, and Helena's local NBC newscast ran a piece on the hike and Y2Y on its three evening broadcasts on Monday June 29. Townsend's weekly newspaper, the Townsend Star has an article about the project in today's paper (July 2).


The Hikers made a presentation about Y2Y and the reasons for doing the 2200 mile hike to the Lewis and Clark County Commissioners in Helena on the morning of June 30. The concept was warmly received -so much so that a representative from the County attended our evening public presentation to award the hikers with Lewis and Clarke County pins and declare them ambassadors for the County as they continue their trek northward.

About 50 people attended our evening presentation in Helena. Bob Dekker, the head of the Montana Wilderness Association, did a great job of highlighting some of the key local issues - both in the Big Belt Mountains and in roadless areas along the Continental Divide -that tie into the Y2Y system of connected protected areas. Helena's location is right between two of the best possible routes for wildlife to link the Yellowstone Ecosystem with the Northern Divide Ecosystem that falls within and around Glacier National park in northern Montana. Tonight we speak in Townsend along with a ranger from the local National Forest and then hit the trail again from where we left off a few days ago.

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