Since my blog entries turned to hiking, it may seem to you that I'm obsessed with bears. In my defense, each tour begins with safety information and instructions on what to do if we see a bear. I'll spare you the repetition, but will elaborate a little so you understand how I feel.
I am fascinated with an animal so intimidating that Lewis and Clark expedition, on seeing their first grizzly, named it 'Ursus Horribilis'-- the Horrible Bear. And Glacier National Park is bear country--both the 'harmless' black bears (that are not always really black or harmless) and the grizzly.
Bears are likely to attack when they are startled, when protecting their cubs, or when hungry and unintimidated by the 'prey'. So we make noise (hence my very bad rendition of 'Making Whoopee') to avoid startling them. And if we're a little on the quiet side as we're hiking, someone in the front calls out somethng like 'Yo, bear!' and someone at the back replies something equally clever like, 'Yo Yogi!' or 'Yo, BooBoo!' The first time I heard 'Yo bear!' I thought it meant there was a bear nearby and I almost climbed a tree (which is useless because grizzlies can climb). But once I realized we were safe, I found the 'protective calls' funny. Picture it...a line of adults on a trail in the woods calling out 'Yo, BooBoo!' every few minutes.
So we often sounded a little silly. But we were safe. At one point, we saw the claw marks a bear had made on a tree and I took a photo of one of our group near the marks for perspective:
Those marks are made by some serious claws.
Toward the end of the trip, I buy a couple books about the bears. It's good that I read them after I visit Grizzly Land. The first, Night of the Grizzlies by Jack Olsen*, which describes events from 1967 (long before my trip), relates the events of a summer at Granite Park Chalet when trash was accumulating, bears were gathering, tourists where enjoying the daily bear shows, and....this was not a good thing.
The other book is Mark of the Grizzly, by Scott McMillion ** The first story is about a Granite Park Chalet incident. By incident, I mean an encounter in which a hungry bear got a very good meal ....
For a harrowing true story of human-grizzly interaction, consider the movie, Grizzly Man, a 2005 documentary by Werner Herzog that tells of Timothy Treadwell, who spent thirteen years living with the bears of Alaska. To see a trailer, check https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWycuaWJFCM/ More than once in this movie, someone makes the point that while Treadwell's 'friendship' with the bears was an act meant to protect them and their environment, his behavior ignored basic bear facts and ultimately was a fatal mistake.
I have digressed from stories of *my* trip to Glacier partly because of my fascination with/terror of bears, and partly because Glacier National Park IS grizzly country. There is a good reason for the rule, 'Pack it in, pack it out.' It is not a good idea for grizzlies to get too familiar with humans or see them as food providers of any sort (even if it's trash). Grizzlies will never- never- see you as friends; food, maybe, but not friends.
* © 1969 and 1996 Homestead Publishing, Moose Wyoming
** © 1998, Globe Pequot Press
Oct 20, 2016 at 12:01 AM Oct 20, 2016 at 8:31 PM