|We had permits our second night for Hole in the Wall Campsite.|
When we descended into camp, we got lucky and the grizzly was far away from the camp and trail. We met M. who had been watching the grizzly and we were glad to be sharing the site with another camper. We turned into bed early.
M. had a story in the morning though! When he’d unzipped his tent at about 6:30 AM, the grizzly was right outside his door. After a moment of being face to face, the grizzly ran off.
After packing up, D. and I scanned the valley with our binocs to locate the grizzly before we left camp. Hole in the Wall campsite lies at the bottom of a hanging cirque lined with huckleberries like a huge berry bowl with the main trail at the rim of the bowl. Would the grizzly be on the spur trail that we needed to take back up to the main trail?
“There are two grizzlies now!” I am horrified. We watch them move closer together, foraging for berries. They bluff charge each other, and their grunts and growls can be heard all the way across the valley.
|Two grizzlies! Photo by D.|
The other campers all agree to hike out past the grizzlies together. The five us us form a tight line. We loose sight of the bears as we drop down into the bowl. We sing and make noise, bear spray clutched in our hands. Ever turn is a blind turn.
|D. leading the way with her bear spray out on the narrow trail. She's one brave woman.|
|Of course we were all gripping our bear sprays, so no photo, but the grizzly, like this one, was right behind the small trees directly above the trail. Artwork by Bev Doolittle.|
|Looking back at Hole in the Wall Campsite after we made it past the first grizzly. I remember having a vague sense that the area was scenic and that I was missing the beauty.|
At our goat survey site, the other hikers hurry ahead. I scan the cliffs for goats while D. keeps her binocs trained on the grizzly. He’s grazing for berries and moving in our general direction. I’m suppose to look for goats for a full hour. I manage two full scans of the cliffs. My pulse thundering the minutes ticking by. It’s only been 15 minutes but the grizzly is now too close. We abandon the survey and hike on.
|Going down Brown Pass, happy to be leaving the grizzlies to their berries.|
Moving to Montana, I didn’t realize the ramifications of being in grizzly territory. I know my imagination probably runs too wild. Statistically, problems are rare, and I’m still much more likely to fall off a cliff or get hit by a car. Maybe it’ll get easier over time. This place is so gorgeous, it feels worth it… at least most of the time.