Adam and I may have gotten more than we bargained for when we set out to do the Blacktail Plateau for the second time on this trip. The plan was to start at the upper TH, ski to the lower TH and then back again for a total of 16 miles.

We began at 8am. Overnight it had snowed another foot and flakes still fell softly from the white sky. A white Christmas indeed. I broke track through the fresh powder for the first two miles and we reached “The Cut” in about 1.5 hours. No bad for setting the track up 900 ft of gain. Adam took over the lead for another hour as we descended slowly into the rolling hills and meadows. We saw a few bison a safe distance away and many tracks.
I took over leading again. We were about one or two miles from the lower TH and coming around a bend when I noticed movement further down the track. Bison! A large herd of bison seemed to be using the trail as a corridor and were heading toward us. Before I could fully evaluate their speed and other variable Adam was already turning around. I followed suit and we made haste the way we had come.

It did not appear that the bison were moving amazingly fast and I was hoping they we branch off into the surrounding meadows that surrounded us. After looking over our shoulders for 20 minutes and seeing nothing (though there were lots of bends and hills that decreased full visibility) we began to relax a bit, but kept moving just in case… its a good thing. I looked back one last time ten minutes later and saw in the far distances, but coming toward us, the same herd of bison spilling down a hill onto the track. At that point we booked it as fast as we could up the plateau. I was terrified. I remembered the herd that almost trampled Eric 4 years ago. I made game plans in my herd. Noted where we could hide if they overtook us. I kept the panic in my head though and stayed calm. It’s what I’ve been trained to do. Panic does not result in survival.

We hit the top of the “The Cut” and with relief double poled most of the way back to the TH. They never caught us. We escaped. But Adam’s already injured knee was messed up even more from the effort of the escape. We hadn’t eaten in 4 hours. We were overheated since we hadn’t stopped to remove down jackets in our haste.  Even though it was only 1:50pm we called it a day on the trail.

Instead we headed to Mammoth Hot Springs and had a quick look at the Terraces. On the way back to the Buffalo Ranch we saw a herd of 29 bison on the road near the Blacktail Plateau. We wondered if it was the same herd we had out run earlier.

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