We just got back from a lovely Summer trip to OR and MT. We went to Glacier National Park as part of our trip this year. If you've never been there, you really should try to go - it's simply stunning. Majestic mountains like no other. The pictures are great but don't even begin to do it justice. I am blessed to have grown up in the state of MT and visited Glacier Park many times over the years.
My hubs, son and I were on a trail called Trail of the Cedars near Avalanche Creek on the West side of the park. It's an easy, lovely 1-mile level trail through the cedars. As we were on it, we got to the head of the Avalanche Lake trail which is a 2-mile trail that climbs waaaayyy up to a beautiful hidden lake. I wasn't planning on hiking that trail since the last time I had done it was before adding *ahem* MANY pounds to my body and MANY years to my age - LOL! But I decided to be brave and go for it as I wanted hubs and son to see the fabulous view at the lake. Hubs had been rather paranoid about bears, having heard several tales of grizzly attacks from various relatives of mine over the last few days, but he decided that this trail would be fine as it was heavily traveled in both directions - plenty of people smells and noises to keep the bears away.
Shiny happy people at Avalanche Creek *before* taking any hikes.
We made it up to the lake and it was definitely worth the hike! I was so happy that I had still been able to get my big old self up that trail! We enjoyed a little time at the lake and then started to head back down the trail.
Beautiful Avalanche Lake which you can only get to by hiking up a 2-mile trail through dense forest. The lines going down in the background are rushing waterfalls!
A chipmunk at Avalanche Lake - hard to get a pic 'cause they move too fast. This one stood on a log near us, puffed up and started chirping. Perhaps he was sending a warning - of, um, I don't know, maybe...BEARS???!!!
I was a couple of yards behind the boys on the trail back as we headed up a hill. They rounded the bend and then next thing - I saw them both heading back quickly in my direction, saying, "bears." I really thought they were joking as I had been in Glacier many times and had never once seen a bear. My son told me that they were serious and to get moving! Finally hubs stopped on the trail and I asked exactly what happened. They had seen THREE BEARS! My son saw them first, then hubs saw them. They were only 30 yards from the trail even though there were plenty of people around. My son even saw the bear that was looking at him rise up on its hind legs (yes, his heart was POUNDING)! *I must mention that I have *always* wanted to see a bear (not quite that close though!) and have only seen a couple that were miles away and hard to see and here hubs and son see THREE bears close up the first time they hike this trail - LOL!
Not what you want to see on a trail in the forest! OK - this is NOT a live bear! It's a stuffed grizzly in a ranger station in Lincoln, MT. It was my son's idea to take the pic from this angle - LOL!
We weren't sure what to do, but we needed to get down the trail. Hubs told some hikers heading that way about the bears and they agreed that all of us could travel in a group. Plus, one of those smart hikers had a large can of bear pepper spray (there is such a thing and it's supposed to be more effective than shooting at a bear). We didn't see any sign of the bears as we headed by - whew!! About 10 minutes down the trail, we saw a group of people and discovered that a hiker had just seen a bear cub wandering around about 50 yards away from the trail. That could only mean that the mama was somewhere close by. Yikes! Then a few more minutes down the trail, a man came from the lake telling people to head back down - he had seen a Mama grizzly and her 2 cubs cross the trail right in front of him!! We realized that those were the same bears that hubs and son had seen as it was the same area. That's right - a mama bear with cubs AND they were grizzlies who are known to attack if they feel at all threatened!
So all the way down that trail, we made plenty of noise and kept a close eye on both sides of the trail. Nerve-wracking! We made it to the bottom just fine and then found a Ranger so we could make an official report of the bear-sighting. He confirmed that a Mama grizzly bear and cubs were up in that general area, but that they hadn't ever been that close to the trail. He also said that we were lucky because she must be tolerant of people or she would have charged us. In fact, that trail was closed twice last Summer because of bears charging hikers (just charges to scare the hikers away from cubs - no fatalities or anything like that!) We are so thankful that the Lord protected us that day!
Surviving hikers! If you look closely, you will notice red eyes - a sure sign of post traumatic bear-sighting disorder. ;)
Now I am not trying to scare you from hiking on trails in bear country! This won't stop us from taking hikes - though we are not the types to go too far off the beaten path. Bears usually want to stay far away from people. Use common sense, follow all precautions given, make noise, have something for protection (bear pepper spray, gun, etc), and know how to best protect yourself if indeed you are charged by a bear.
So what do you think? Was that blogworthy? Have you ever seen a bear? Would you still hike that trail?
I hope you all are having as much fun as I am! LOL! Enjoy the rest of your Summer!