As you can probably tell by now...
I'm a huge fan of our National Parks, and have been known to do National Park Trips that combine a few different parks.
Well back in June of 2010, I was planning a trip to Glacier National Park with a couple of friends. So of course (so cynical of me to say) as the trip got closer, certain friends had dropped out of going on the trip.
The friends that had dropped out were actually the ones of whom we had based our travel arrangements according to their schedules. UGH!
Now leaving just 2 of us left going, and I sure as heck wasn't going to back out!
The plan was to fly into Spokane and then drive up to Whitefish where our accommodations were booked. All was going as planned, and then scenery was quite lovely!
The next morning we were driving into the park! Yay! I couldn't wait!
We were taking the Going-to-the-Sun road and the view was EPIC!
We drove across the Continental Divide at 6,646 feet and then stopped to take a lunch break at the Logan Pass Visitor Center.
This park had very quickly risen to become a favorite and climbed to the top my National Park List!
Wearing a bear bell and carrying bear mace is a necessary safety requirement in a park like this, and yes we saw plenty of bears - huge GRIZZLIES, and most of them at quite a distance...
Each and every trail that we went on had signs posted to beware of these large creatures, and noting that it was berry season and that these bears were on the hunt for their sweet juicy berries...but luckily we hadn't had any close encounters yet...
That was until one day that while we were on trail, when all of a sudden a couple of teenaged girls had nervously rushed past us going in the opposite direction.
We continued on the trail just thinking that they were a few rambunctious teens, until we caught up with another group of hikers who had told us that there was a momma bear and her cubs just ahead!
Ok so, just coming across a Grizzly or any bear in a close encounter was not anything that I ever really wanted or needed to experience, but whenever you have a momma animal, you know darn well that she is a most protective beast! And she is always guarding her babes (in this case cubs) from any danger.
Obviously these are very mobile creatures (moving throughout an area of several miles throughout a 24hr period) and they actually do not want to encounter humans just as much as we shouldn't want to encounter them.
Now the only decision to be made was in which direction to go...should we continue moving forward assuming that the momma bear and her cubs had moved on; or do we turn back around and perhaps encounter her on the other side of the trail...
Onward, and it seemed like Ms Momma bear and her cubs actually hadn't moved too far from the trail and we hiked right past them (eyes fixed straight ahead and holding my breath of course)!
There was a big ol' Momma and her 3 cute cubs, and me!
Well, I just kept on a-movin', I was certainly not gonna disrupt this little bear family!
However once we got back home, we quickly found out that during that same week we were visiting, there were actually 2 bear attack stories!
One that took place right there at Glacier National Park, where animal expert Jack Hanna was hiking along with his wife when they, (along with 3 other hikers) had encountered 3 Grizzly Bears (Momma and 2 cubs) after rounding a corner of the narrow trail. After talking loudly and not turning their backs towards the bears, Jack Hanna had advised the group to climb up onto the side of a small rocky clearing, to allow the bears to pass. One by one the bears went by, but the second cub didn't budge, in fact he started charging at the group!
Jack Hanna had thought quickly and pulled out his can of bear mace aiming it at the estimated 125lb bear, but the wind took it and the bear was still charging. Jack tried again but to no avail; However on the third attempt it had worked and the young bear got the spray right in his face. That instantly turned the young bear away and although while quite startled this group had all owned a huge appreciation to Bear Spray/Mace. For it kept all 5 of these people alive, safe, and well!
Jack Hanna had been carrying around bear mace for the past 15 years and had never had to use it before this day. Another example of how it's always better to be safe than sorry.
During the same week there was yet another encounter, except that this time there were two fatal maulings of hikers by Grizzly Bears at Yellowstone National Park.
While this story is not meant to frighten you, hopefully it will keep you aware of the potential dangers of being out in the wild. Please be safe, carry bear spray and please do not travel solo.
Read more about bear spray/mace HERE