To paraphrase American naturalist John Muir’s famous quote, “The mountains are calling, and Dr. Ann Davies, family physician for Associates in Family Medicine, must go.” More specifically, she must go backpacking. In Yellowstone National Park. Frequently.
“We’ve visited so often,” says Davies, “I have literally lost track of how many times we’ve been there.”
Dr. Davies and her husband, Kurt, are big fans of spending time hiking and camping in remote corners of Yellowstone—even though they seem to have the odd misfortune of encountering some of the park’s most notable residents on a fairly regular basis. “I don’t know what it is, but we seem to experience more than our fair share of bears,” says Davies. “I’m not sure why, because we are very careful about things that can attract them, like food and trash. I guess it’s a gift!”
Take, for example, one backpacking trip to Yellowstone where their plan for a five-day hike took an interesting turn. “We discovered that one of our intended campsites was also very popular with a grizzly,” she explains. “The local ranger informed us that this particular bear had laid claim to the area, was not shy of humans, and tended to be more than a little aggressive. On top of that, we ran into a huge storm with lightning and hail. Knowing a grizzly was somewhere nearby, we turned around and hiked in the dark back to where we’d left our bikes. Then, we discovered that our bike lights were out. We wound up biking around a bunch of bison in the dark,” she recalls. “I wouldn’t say that was my best trip to Yellowstone, but it was certainly memorable.”
Davies first developed a taste for the great outdoors in high school. Her family visited Colorado for a family reunion, and the mountain wilderness made a big impression on her. “Experiencing the mountains of Colorado just blew my mind,” she says. “Growing up in Chicago, my family often went tent camping in Wisconsin, but we had never really roughed it or gone backpacking. I think it was shortly after that trip that I decided I wanted to be a wildlife biologist.”
“My dad was a paramedic and it always seemed like an exciting and fun job,” she reflects. “As a child, I would spend many hours climbing on his ambulance.”
Never Cry Wolf, Farley Mowat’s firsthand account of observing wolves in the upper reaches of Canada, inspired her to try her hand at biology. But something about that path didn’t sit quite right for Davies. “I worked a few odd jobs in that field,” she reflects, “but it always felt more like a hobby versus a career.”
The turning point came when she took an anatomy course at Colorado State University during her undergraduate program. The subject truly resonated with her, and she decided to pursue a career in medicine. After completing her residency at Poudre Valley Hospital, she spent two years at a hospital in Longmont before joining Associates in Family Medicine in 2010.
Like many practicing medicine, Davies’ affinity for life sciences and health care stemmed from being around a parent in the field. She grew up around health care, which she surmises had a lot to do with her interest in caring for people. “My dad was a paramedic and it always seemed like an exciting and fun job,” she reflects. “As a child, I would spend many hours climbing on his ambulance.”
Davies says she enjoys the diversity of family medicine and the opportunity to serve families—especially those of older patients. “When people reach a certain stage in life, the whole family seems to rally around them in terms of their health,” she remarks. “I really like that about the people here in our community.”
When she’s not practicing medicine at the the Foxtrail office at Centerra or randomly encountering large carnivores, she and her husband keep busy with their other adventure—a two-year-old son named E.J., who, according to Davies, seems to have inherited their passion for all things outdoors. They spend a great deal of time swimming, taking advantage of local parks, going on family walks, and hiking area trails. “He loves anything that doesn’t involve sleep or having to go home,” she quips. “And he seems to have a knack for getting into precarious situations.”
Like encounters with bears?
“Oh, no,” laughs Davies. “Maybe a teddy bear or two. It’s just your normal two-year-old stuff. But trust me, it’s plenty exciting for now.”