Monday, July 27, 2015

Would you camp here?

As I descended to my campsite by the lake, I met campers who'd stayed there the previous night.
Descending to Lake Ellen Wilson Campsite, where I had a permit to camp.
“We watched a grizzly bear all night and this morning on the far shore,” they said, “But it never came to the campsite.”

“But you should be more worried about the mountain goats.  They harassed us all night.”

What would you have done?
Mountain Goats are neat... especially when they are this far away.
I turned around and hiked back out to my car and drove home.  I didn’t want to have goats rustling around my campsite all night long, stealing my hiking poles and shoes to get at my salt.  I didn’t want to be alone in a valley with a grizzly bear.

I like to give animals their space. When I'm not constrained by having to camp in a permited site, I always find campsites that are far from any signs of animals, and if I see lots of scat, I'll just keep hiking. Even if it's something completely harmless like deer. It's my way of being respectful.

The thing that is so tough for me is that some animals in Glacier are acclimatized to humans. I feel much more comfortable around wild-acting animals. Shoot even the begging ground squirrels make me uncomfortable, how they lung at you, how they remind me that we humans are having such a huge impact on these animals. How we've encroached on their land and the few spaces they have left, we come and fed them and disrespect their wildness.

I guess I should have done more research about where to camp.  I'm trying to figure out how to be in Montana.
Mountain goat on the trail.
This hike was in Glacier National Park:
Starting at Lake McDonald Lodge, I hiked up the Gunsight Pass trail past Sperry Chalet to Lake Ellen Wilson.  And retraced my steps back. 


  1. If it had just been the mountain goats I would have stayed. Yes, they can be dangerous but I think you can take appropriate precautions against them. Grizzlies on the other hand...especially if I was alone I wouldn't have stayed. I would have spooked the crap out of myself every time I turned around.

    1. Thanks for the comment. When I was hiking out, I was starting to second-guess myself. I sometimes get frustrated that I'm so cautious. I forget that trusting my instincts keeps me safe, and to just be accepting of my risk-aversion, even though it also limits me.

  2. You did the right thing. At the least you would have had a sleepless night if you stayed. The one thing I don't like about Glacier are the human habituated animals. And due to the designated campsite requirements, they all know right where you'll be when they want to check you out.

    1. It's reassuring to hear that you also feel this way about the habituated animals. I talk to a lot of people that really enjoy seeing the animals close up, and I just don't get that. A few people have recommended that I try getting a permit for the dispersed camping areas in Glacier, or just sticking to dayhikes, so I'm thinking to do more of that when I'm solo.

    2. I am also most afraid of habituated animals. Because they don't act like you would expect a wild animal to act I think they are really unpredictable. I would have hiked out too - even if I'd been in a group. I just don't think I would have had much fun with a big ole bear around. I still think it's cool that you're out there!

    3. I didn't know you could get a permit for a "dispersed camping area" in Glacier. Do you have to pass some sort of interview to get one? Having the ability to camp with more flexibility on location would really increase my time there.

    4. I know the Nyack area had dispersed camping (not helpful now...) but not sure where the other areas are. I heard you have to sound like you know what you are doing to get dispersed sites besides in the Nyack and come up with justification.