Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bear Encounters

This last weekend, we took a trip to a part of our local National Park that we have never ventured to. It was a blast!! We actually left to late on Friday to get a camp spot in the Park, so we stayed at a KOA Kampground right outside the entrance near St. Mary's on the east side of Glacier. On our way there, we happened to see a black bear playing around in a field... it was kind of far away, but we could tell it was a bear at least :)
We hung out the first night at the campground, settling in and exploring
around. Saturday we got up and ready mid-morning. We decided to head the Many Glacier area, and found the Swiftcurrent Nature hike to be what we were looking for: easy hike for me (knee); easy hike for the kids; still a nice walk; and pretty populated. Three different groups had told us at the KOA that they had seen grizzly bears the day before in the Many Glacier area. And actually some of the trails in the area had been closed due to bear activity! BUT this was a popular 2.5 mile hike... so what the heck. It was a beautiful hike that just followed the lake with nice views and lots of wildflowers to look at. Ayla had been having a hard time staying motivated, but we were using a pop as a bribe. A little over half way on the hike, we crossed a creek that flowed into lake. After we crossed, I had a funny feeling to be on the lookout. Sure enough, Colton and I were in the lead, and we rounded a corner, and about 100-150 ft in front of us was a GRIZZLY BEAR!!! I backed up around the corner and said "Tyler, there is a bear." We immediately turned around and headed in the opposite direction (She was headed towards us on the path!) I stupidly told Tyler he could take a look around the corner, if he hurried and was careful. The kids and I headed for the bridge, and warned some other hikers headed that way. They continued with wild fascination! (Stupid?) I saw Tyler headed back in a hurry... he later told me that she was 40-50 ft from him when he rounded the corner!!! (why did I send him???)She is at in the middle of the picture, at the top of the trail!
There were two other groups of people near us, so we informed them of the bear, and she started walking on the bank on the opposite side of the creek. Then she came up to the bridge, and started rubbing her neck on it! Oh, and she had two of the cutest little bear cubs!!! They were so curious and fearful of us... adorable! While she was rubbing her neck, some of the other group was halfway across the bridge!!! Can you believe that people would get that close to a wild grizzly bear?! (about 20 ft.) She was smaller than I imagined a mama bear to be... but I still wouldn't mess with her! She started across the bridge and we took off the way we came! The trail branched right there at the bridge, so we headed to the lodge. But the other hikers didn't, so we waited to see what would happen. She decided to take the other trail. So after she was a safe distance away (maybe? there were other people between her and us!) we decided to continue on the trail the way we were originally going. We let everyone headed that way know that we had just encountered a bear and whatnot. I felt like I had a secret and I had to tell everyone... it was a weird feeling! But I really couldn't believe the timing of it all. So happy that we weren't a couple minutes later and ran into her AT the corner! How scary would that have been? But there is a reason for people to carry bear spray and wear bells and just talk and warn the animals of their presence. This bear didn't seem scared of us at all, and she was on a mission to go across that bridge! I feel so lucky that we were able to witness this beautiful wild animal and her young!
After that, we went to the ranger station and reported the sighting (only one other group had reported it, and only with one cub!) so this is important too!
Headed back to camp after we ate lunch and relaxed in the pool and hot tub.
Slept awesome Saturday night, and woke up early for a drive through some more uncharted territory. St. Mary Entrance all the way through to the west side. It was beautiful!!! We stopped to take a hike at St. Mary Falls, and decided to head to Virginia Falls (3 mile total hike) and had a great time. No bears this time.
It was really unbelievably beautiful, and I fell in love all over again with Glacier! As I tend to do at each visit!
Lunch was at Sprague Creek at the lake (McDonald). Lots of flies. And Ayla busted up her lip riding her bike. We decided to stop at the ER on the way into town to see if she needed stitches. She didn't. But, her front tooth is loose, and she is busted up in the lip area pretty bad. Poor girly. Poor Tyler too.. he tried to catch her, but missed her, and blamed himself. Accidents happen.

All in all, we had a great weekend. Full of adventure and full of life! I hope yours was fantastic also!


Danielle said...

cute! I wondered what had happened to all those hats and shorts. Glad someones using them. I can't wait to go camping, I am really hoping we get to go this weekend, but Loren keeps working on the weekends!

Lisa Stucky said...

GREAT photos too. I love Glacier. There's not many places quite like it!