What are those bears doing at this time of night……
The second evening in Glacier National Park after a nice dinner at the Many Glacier Lodge—it stays light til about 11 at that time of year—I decided after dinner to hike in to a back country lake and camp.
I got to the lake around 930 and was laying out my bag when I saw, across
Redrock lake, two grizzlies—a momma and her fairly large year old cub—walking down the trail that I had just come up and on which i was now camping.. The wind was at their back so they couldn’t smell me, and they don’t see accurately very far. So I started yelling, “Hey Bear” to make sure I didn’t surprise them. I had left the pepper spray in the car, so I was just hoping that they were on their way through as opposed to looking to stop for dinner.
The problem was that a small creek poured off some rocks between us on the trail, just 30 yards or so from me, and they couldn’t hear me over the water’s roar. So they kept coming through the waterfall until they finally heard me. Without changing her pace, momma bear veered left off the trail along the hillside and continued walking down hill. Phew! The sun set about 15 minutes later.
Though I couldn’t see them in the pitch black, two very large animals, probably my bears from earlier, came crashing out of the willows just a few feet away and walked back up the trail. I figured my luck in Glacier could might be about done……fortunately my talk in Kalispell was the next morning so all I had to do was drive, which, on reflection, is the most dangerous, and more daily, activity we do!
Thinking back on that trip now, I wonder how many of the glaciers will be left when I go back. The photographer Jim Balog has been documenting the global recession of glaciers over the last 10 years and a move about his work is coming out soon–Chasing Ice. It’s a stark reminder to us that our world is changing and we must figure out how to adapt. I suspect that those grizzlies may well be sensing the change also. The dangers of being next to big wildlife or driving in our cars are clear to us, but the danger of rising temperature is something we are just beginning to figure out.