You know summer is upon Grand Lake when you are awoken to the lovely sounds of grunting in your backyard. Thankfully, I have become the master of the ratchet strap and Mr. Bear isn’t getting into my trash. Unfortunately, he weighs over 400 pounds and has mastered the javelin toss. He truly should consider trying out for the Olympic team. Although I laugh about his inability to crack my dumpster, I know others who have been not so fortunate and spent an entire morning cleaning up his mess. While the residents are used to this guy’s antics, one can only assume our visitors & guests are not and they need the knowledge of how to handle bear safety or as I lovingly refer to it, the “Bear Necessities.”
What Should I Do if I See a Bear? - TAKE A SELFIE! - While it is an exciting moment, it is important to remember that bears in are wild and can be dangerous. Their behavior is sometimes unpredictable. Although rare, attacks on humans have occurred, inflicting serious injuries and death. Each bear and each experience is unique; there is no single strategy that will work in all situations and that guarantees safety. Most bear encounters end without injury. Following some basic guidelines may help to lessen the threat of danger. Your safety can depend on your ability to calm the bear.
Bear Encounters – He is not a Teddy Bear, you CANNOT hug him and squeeze him and call him George - Keeping your distance and not surprising bears are some of the most important things you can do. Most bears will avoid humans if they hear them coming. Pay attention to your surroundings and make a special effort to be noticeable if you are in an area with known bear activity or a good food source, such as berry bushes. Once a bear has noticed you and is paying attention to you, additional strategies can help prevent the situation from escalating.
If any bear attacks you, or stalks you and then attacks, do NOT play dead—ﬁght back! This kind of attack is very rare, but can be serious because it often means the bear is looking for food and sees you as prey.
Bear Pepper Spray – Not a Axe Body Spray Scent - Bear pepper spray can be an important thing to carry when exploring the back country. It is used defensively to stop an aggressive, charging, or attacking bear. Although it’s used in the same manner you would use mace on an attacking person, bear pepper spray and human pepper spray are not the same. Make sure you select an EPA approved product that is specifically designed to stop aggressive bears. It is not a repellent so do not apply to your body or equipment.
Good Housekeeping – Although They Are Slobs, You Don’t Have To Be – Bears have amazing memories, if they find food in one location, they will return, so storing your food and disposing of garbage properly is essential. What is considered food? Bears have an insatiable appetite and an amazing sense of smell, and they consider anything with a scent to be "food." This can include canned goods, bottles, drinks, soaps, cosmetics, sunscreen, items used for preparing or eating meals, etc. All of these items must be stored properly.
#1 RULE - Always keep trash inside a secure building or if you do not have an out building and absolutely cannot keep your trash inside your home, make sure your trash can has a lock or use a ratchet strap. It is also recommended that you keep food separate from other trash until trash day.
BEAR PROOF QUICK TIPS - To avoid problems, please Bear-Proof your property!
Let us strive to co-exist peacefully and please let the bears be bears.
Reference: National Park Service
I didn’t plan on writing about this particular animal this week, but when one is moments away from entering your cabin, the thought kind of sticks with you. I was working in my office in our walk-out basement—with the door open since it’s been so lovely out—and out of the corner of my eye I caught a furry, brown shape strolling by the window. At first I assumed it was my Chessie, Gage, until I noticed that she was snoozing on the floor. I jumped up, ran over to the door and slammed it shut just as the bear reached it. I wasn’t the only one taken by surprise. The slam scared the bear and it barreled down the hill. And my dog’s reaction? Zzzzzzz.
Now honestly, this guy wasn’t that big, but it’s still a bear. The accompanying photo shows bear tracks that were outside my driveway a few weeks ago, which I followed all the way around Columbine Lake. My animal expert friend told me that you can estimate the size of the bear by measuring its paw, something like each one inch across equates to a foot long or a hundred pounds or hmmm (he did relay this info at Friday Happy Hour). Given all the recent sightings, it’s probably time to remind everyone what to do if you come across one. Experts say to stop, appear calm and don’t yell. Then, slowly back away. Don’t try to run away because black bears can sprint 35 mph. Only if it approaches should you start getting noisy and waving your arms. If it attacks, fight back. Luckily, they are shy and their normal response to perceived danger is to run away like mine did.
The incident reminded me of last summer when we had that rash of vehicles being broken into by a clever bear who figured out how to open door handles. If it could figure that out, they must be pretty smart. And they are. Bears have the highest brain-to-body mass ratio of all carnivores. Black bears are known to be inquisitive, adaptive, and have great memories, which unfortunately comes in handy when they want to remember who left something yummy outside. They will return to the same place for literally years. In fact, many modern bear biologists accredit them with the equivalent IQ of the great apes, and some even consider their intelligences equivalent of a 3-year-old human.
So apart from the food (I swear I didn’t realize that the stinky rotten egg stuff I spray on my aspens would appeal to a bear), why do they hang around here? Many people have witnessed bears in the wild sitting still for long periods of time doing nothing but staring at scenic vistas such as sunsets, lakes and mountains. There’s little to explain their behavior other than to theorize that they simply love to look at beauty. Isn’t that why we live here? Oh, and by the way, it’s probably time to start locking our vehicles at bedtime.
Everyone knows that one of the great things to do around Grand Lake in the fall is to watch the Elk fights in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is only in very unique, rare places that such a powerful glimpse into the forces that drive nature can be so readily observed by the masses. In a system rigged so that only the strongest genes can be passed on, the males ritually lock horns in mortal combat and the females willingly devote themselves to a champion.
This brute power approach to gene selection can be seen in many aspects of nature as the evolution of many species is centered on battle. Horned animals are notorious for fighting, but elsewhere in the animal kingdom the effort to achieve dominance is not so straightforward. Many types of male birds sing or dance to attract a mate. Male freshwater dolphins are known to lift rocks beyond the surface of the water in their mouths in order to demonstrate dexterity to their potential mates. Buffalo roll around in dirt in order to throw a dust cloud into the air. The bigger the dust cloud, the more impressive is his display to females and the more daunting is his appearance to the other males. Perhaps an even more unique example is the courtship of the satin bowerbird of eastern Australia which builds stick structures, and then decorates those structures with yellow, blue or shiny objects in order to attract a mate. The more eye-catching objects he has, the more attractive he is to females; a form of wealth in nature.
As humans we have our own place in nature and are at a particularly interesting point in our evolution. In many ways we have evolved past the state of animals but it is impossible to completely separate ourselves from natural instinct. Our conscious minds are what make the world a better place and to a large degree determine what quality of person we are. The conscious mind, or our human side, can often be in opposition to our animal side. When the strength of a person’s animal side outweighs the ability of their conscious mind to control it, behavioral problems can ensue. Because we mate, our animal instincts will never wane and will always drive our behavior to some degree.
We live in a world that values skills and men and women alike can be equally driven to achieve. Our animal side wants to display dominance or prowess, and yet as humans with higher intelligence, there is a wide variety of ways that those instincts are translated into the human world. It is easy to see the connection in sports if you think of them as a human version of an elk fight. Fighting is a sport and perhaps the purest form of sport related to basic instinct. Hunting and fishing are obviously very primal. Good genes can be demonstrated at the pinnacle of athletic accomplishment. High level athletes are often coveted by the opposite sex. Many women gravitate towards NFL and Major League Baseball champions. The same can be said for rock stars. A singer on stage is perhaps nothing more than a peacock. A computer innovator demonstrates his prowess through intelligence. A man with money is not unlike the satin bowerbird and a craftsman demonstrates dexterity and creativity. Success or skill of any type shows strength and is attractive. Anyone with skill in a field regardless of what field it is has likely been motivated to get there to some degree by a competitive nature and the opposite sex, even if it is only on an instinctive or subconscious level.
If you doubt the significance of dominance on people’s behavior and way of thinking, think for a minute about popular movies. How many famous movies are simply about a dominant male? Rambo, Rocky, Gladiator, Predator, and even Batman, Spiderman and Wolverine are all good examples. Also take a minute to think about why sports are so popular to watch and why people can get so riled up if their team does not come in first.
So next time you’re watching the Elk rut remember that we might have more in common with them than you might think!
THE FIRST WEST SIDE ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK RANGER
Howard George Beehler was born in Hamburg, New York on January 10, 1894. At the age of five his family moved to Denver, Colorado, where Howard attended schools and graduated in 1912 from Manual High School. From September 1913 to June 1915 he took a short course in animal husbandry at Colorado Agricultural College in Fort Collins.
On February 9, 1916 the U. S. Department of Interior Secretary (Lane), appointed 22 year old Howard G. Beehler as a National Park Ranger. His pay was $900 per year. And if needed provide his own horse and tack. Six days later the Oath of Office was subscribed. His first day of duty was on February 21. That day in Granby, Ranger Beehler emerged form a Denver & Salt Lake Railroad passenger train with a map, pistol, and snowshoes. Near the depot a Grand Lake Stage Line sleigh was waiting. The driver was Edward B. Smith. The ranger requested to be taken to Grand Lake. At the halfway point the sleigh stopped at Susan Johnston’s Stillwater Ranch, introductions were made and a warm meal was served. Mrs. Johnston was known for generous hospitality. She also was a foster mother to Ed and his twin brothers, Preston and Henry Smith. When dinner was finished the men continued to Grand Lake. “Well Beehler” exclaimed Ed Smith, “there’s your district!”
Winter patrols by Ranger Beehler were on skis or snowshoes, the locals nicknamed him the “Timber Beast.” During the summer, tourists and wandering cattle required careful treatment. On September 26 all Park rangers began construction on a 18 mile two wire metallic circuit telephone line. From Mill Creek Ranger Station, over Flattop Mountain – elevation 12,364 feet, to Grand Lake. 75 trees were cut, skidded by horses, and placed in the ground as telephone poles. Work ceased in November due to heavy deep snow. Work then resumed in February 1917, the phone system was operational on March 18. The epic task was mostly done on snowshoes and skis. Park Supervisor L. C. Way annotated the official report, “constructed with all ranger labor.” Ranger Beehler a.k.a. the Timber Beast was given a $300 pay increase. The Park Supervisor was promoted to Park Superintendent.
The Superintendent and the West Side Ranger did a location survey on Park land overlooking Grand Lake. They envisioned a campground with canvas tents on wooden platforms for tourists and their automobiles. A nearby stream was named "Beehler Creek." The campsite was never built, however the site became Grand Lake Lodge.
A career was interrupted owing to the World War I draft. Howard Beehler entered the U.S. Army Infantry as a Private and was discharged a First Lieutenant in 1919. Ed Smith, who had driven Beehler to Grand Lake three years earlier, perished in the Spanish influenza epidemic.
Howard Beehler was welcomed back to Rocky Mountain National Park as the Chief Ranger. He transferred to the U.S. Forest Service to serve as District Ranger in the Routt National Forest at Walden. Then he had a 12 year break from government service.
In 1927 at Central City, general contractor Howard Beehler married Myrna Davis.
Mr. Beehler resumed his government service in the Gunnison and Pike National Forests, as a Civilian Conservation Corps foreman. During the Dust Bowl Era he was transferred to the Soil Conservation Service as a C.C.C. Camp Superintendent at Springfield. He then became Superintendent of all Colorado C.C.C. Camps.
In 1938 the government required Howard Beehler’s birth certificate. A certificate that he never had. Transcripts from the 1900 Federal Census and Denver’s Corona Elementary School were accepted. Also in 1938 the new Grazing Service was created. Mr. Beehler was selected as the first fire control, equipment engineer, inspection, and safety officer. His personal slogan, “Always Alert-Nobody Hurt,” was officially adopted. The original standards that were set by Howard Beehler at the Grazing Service, carried over to the Bureau of Land Management, on July 1, 1946. His out of state assignments then included New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington D.C.
On August 31, 1957 after 28 years of dedicated government service, Mr. Beehler retired. One of his early supervisors remarked that Mr. Beehler’s accomplishment is what is expected of every government employee in theory but is actually achieved by only a few. The Department of Interior Meritorious Service Award was then presented to Howard G. Beehler.
Following retirement, he owned a cherry orchard near Grand Junction.
Howard George Beehler at age 91, passed away on February 9, 1985 in a Northglenn nursing home. Surviving him were one daughter, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. Burial was at Fairmount Cemetery in Denver.
By Donald Dailey
Grand Lake in the Olden Days. By Mary Lyons Cairns
The National Archives. Howard Beehler’s Civil Service File
Island in the Rockies. By Robert C. Black III
Rocky Mountain National Park Administrative History. Chapter XIII: The Rangers
The Middle Park Times. May 17, 1917
blogs.bootsnail.com The History of Grand Lake Lodge. May 15, 2006
The Rocky Mountain News. February 12, 1985. Obituary of Howard Beehler
Family History. The author is a relative of Edward B. Smith
This is a saying that I have on a little sign in my house that my mom sent me last Christmas. I wonder if she was trying to tell me something in an oh so gentle mom-like way.
It has been a reminder that I look at EVERYDAY and so often, many times a day.
It is just so easy to get caught up in the “what do I have to get done” mindset and checking things off our “to do” list that the hours, days, weeks and years can slip by so quickly that we find ourselves wondering where did the time go? It usually takes a significant event like a loved one passing or watching your once vibrant young dog, now “suddenly” gimping along or watching your once cooing baby now waving goodbye as they jump on the bus. Where did the time go? It snaps us back if we’ve been running blindly to get all those super “important” things done that really don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.
Having my new baby girl has really made me step back and take a breather when I normally run on overdrive. Everyone is always telling me “It goes so fast, so enjoy it now!” they grow up so quick!” So I try to watch and take in every word, step, laugh, cry, cuddle and silly face. Still it flies by… Life right now is trying to look past the toys on the floor, the towels on the ground, the tupperware strewn across the kitchen that my own little personal tornado has created and enjoy the moment. I know that I can never get these moments back so I point and shoot my camera constantly in hopes of capturing every moment that has made us laugh, knowing that father time will yank some of them from my memory without my permission.
Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. Make your life this summer. If you have found yourself flying along without opening your eyes, open them! Enjoy this summer! It’s never too late to start a new habit and a new way of thinking! That’s the beautiful thing about this being human business. We can always start over. No matter what our yesterday looked like, we can always start over. Enjoy your day. Love your loved ones and take a breather.
Sarah Chabot owner and LMT at Sarah Chabot Massage Therapy
Draw from your memory bank to recall the childhood nursery rhyme, “Do you know the muffin man? The muffin man, the muffin man.” Now that the little song is repeating in your head, I’ll share that we have our own Pancake Man right here in Grand Lake! He’s none other than Frank Appelhans, owner of Grand Lake Plumbing and longtime Grand Lake Rotarian. The Rotary Club of Grand Lake Pancake breakfast tradition has been a favorite around these parts on the 4th of July and Buffalo BBQ Weekend for nearly a half century. Frank shared that he has been flipping rounds for over four decades, and looks forward each year to making the over 1000 pancakes to more than 900 people in one morning (he starts before the sun comes up).
I asked about the best and worst of times during pancake breakfast, he was quick to say, “No bad times…, but the building of the Heckert Pavilion in the 80’s made bad weather much easier to deal with.” As for the good times, he says that what keeps him going.
Frank has lots of friends in this town, I didn’t have to go far to hear about his wonderful sprit and love for this community:
“Frank, known for many years as ‘Mr. Pancake’, has cooked literally thousands of pancakes over the previous 41 years, all for the benefit of the community of Grand Lake. In addition, Frank’s company, Grand Lake Plumbing, has long been a big supporter of Rotary events, especially the annual pancake breakfast.” Larry Bacon, Past President, Grand Lake Rotary and coordinator of the pancake breakfast event.
The Rotary Club is gearing up for the 2016 Pancake Breakfast. Put it on your calendar for the morning for July 4th and July 16th Buffalo BBQ weekend. Be sure to say hello to Frank and thank him of all years of volunteer service.
Visitors, How to survive our locals