The Carnivorous Plant FAQ Field Trip Report -

Dodging Montana bears in 2006

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Grinnell Glacier:
As we hiked, the rain turned into heavy snow. Within thirty minutes, our hike transformed into a trudge over snow fields. Still, the trail was visible and my GPS's batteries were strong, so we continued on. After a few hours we reached Grinnell Glacier. Less than 100 years ago, the entire lake in the above photograph was covered by the glacier.

All the hikers we met in Glacier had coping mechanisms for dealing with the constant threat of bears. The theory is that most attacks occur because the bears are surprised at close range by silent hikers, so it was not uncommon to encounter people singing at the top of their lungs, brandishing flappy umbrellas, and of course wearing bells. It became second nature for us to shout out and clap anytime we approached a turn in the trail. Sections of trail choked with fruit-bearing shrubs were to be distrusted in particular.

Of course, in the rare cases of premeditated, "predatory" grizzly bear attacks, there is little you can do except die. Incidentally, of the five fatal grizzly bear attacks that occurred since 1980, all were on lone hikers--as such, I was surprised to see so many lone hikers on the trail.

Look, I know that I am making a big thing about the grizzlies at Glacier, and you may think I am a big weenie. Maybe I am. But I'm OK with that. If you are compelled to tell me that I'm a big weenie, then email me, remind me of this page's url so I can find it quickly, and I'll include your vote of my weeniness below so you can get it out of your system.

"I think Barry is a big weenie about grizzly bears": 0 votes so far.

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Revised: January 2008
©Barry Rice, 2005