Essay used for college admission.    November 2002       Kyle Friedrichs

 During the summer of 2000, my family and I traveled to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks where I
looked forward to taking some exciting animal photographs.  Throughout the trip my father lectured my younger
sister Tamara and me about what to do if we saw any wild animals and how to react to each different one.
Although this information seemed dull at first, it proved quite useful as we actually had several encounters with wild
animals.
Our first encounter with a wild animal was when we saw a female deer in the woods; Tamara and I remembered
what we were told about keeping quiet and staying a good distance from the deer, so as not to scare it away.  
Thus we were successful in being able to photograph and observe the doe for an extended period of time.  After a
few more encounters with other animals, such as an elk, some bison, an eagle, a gaggle of geese and a few very
dangerous chipmunks, we finally spotted the animal we had been anxiously waiting to see: a bear.  During our
drive to the Mammoth Hot Springs, we saw a glimpse of a black bear on the side of the road.  We jumped out of
the car to try to take some pictures, however, the bear quickly ran farther into the woods.  Since we heard that
only one in every thousand visitors sees a bear, we thought this was our great bear encounter.  But this was
nothing compared to what would come.
  On our last day hiking in the Grand Teton National Park, we would have an animal encounter that proved why
all the lecturing was not only useful, but essential.   As my family trekked along, my dad started to joke that he
heard of a bear sighting on the trail, and we needed to be very careful.  Since my sister and I have dealt with this
type of joking for our entire lives, we just rolled our eyes; in hindsight, it sounds like bad Hollywood
foreshadowing.  After about an hour and a half of hiking, we decided to stop for lunch by a little stream, which had
a log stretching across from one side to the other.  We were about to begin eating when my sister Tamara, who
often cries wolf, told my mother that there was a bear across the stream.  My mother was about to scold her for
joking about something so serious, until she realized it was true.  I put the food away in the packs, as my father
had warned us earlier; then my father grabbed the video camera and I then grabbed the still.  Like excited
children, we went to take pictures of the bear.  To our surprise the bear proceeded to cross the stream on the log,
heading in our direction.  The bear strode right past my dad, who did not seem to notice that the bear was only ten
feet away from him.  He later explained, that with his eye glued to the black and white zoom finder, he never fully
realized how close the bear was or that the blurry objects diving into the bushes nearby were his wife and daughter
in fear for their lives.
 As I continued to snap pictures, I suddenly noticed that the bear was heading in my direction.  Then it dawned on
me, the food was behind me and the bear was in front of me.  I quickly remembered what I was told earlier about
what to do during a bear encounter, starting with “don’t panicâ€�.  I looked behind me to double check
that the food was safely inside the backpacks, and I stood tall and maintained eye contact with the bear as I
slowly side-stepped away.  The bear proceeded to pass right by me and sniff my backpack, before lumbering on
his way, leaving a half-excited and half-terrified family behind.
  I consider myself to have been successful in this situation because I was able to stay calm when an animal,
probably three times my size, ran by me.  A park ranger later explained, as I had known, that keeping the food
away from the bear was critical.  If the bear had eaten any human food, they would have had to destroy it because
it could be a danger to others.  I felt very proud that my actions might have helped to save the bear and of course
that I finally got my exciting animal photo.
                    Bear sniffing my pack






Return to home page