In traveling from the mountains to the desert, we have traded having to look out for bears for being on the lookout for rattlesnakes. The mosquitoes and biting flies have given way to yellow jackets as number one pest. Sparse juniper bushes clinging to the chalky hillsides have taken the place of the towering lodge pole pines, brick reds and toasted yellows and browns replace the lush greens of the mountains and forests.
“Almost every day, on the park or forest radio, we hear some ranger report a bear sighting, sometimes of grizzly. Campers molested, packs destroyed by hungry and questing bears. Somebody was recently attacked and mauled by a griz north of the line, in Waterton Lakes…
No doubt about it, the presence of bear, especially grizzly bear, adds a spicy titillation to a stroll in the woods. My bear loving friend Peacock goes so far as to define wilderness as a place and only a place where one enjoys the opportunity of being attacked by a dangerous wild animal. Any place that lacks griz, or lions and tigers, or a rhino or two, is not, in his opinion, worthy of the name wilderness…A wild place without dangers is an absurdity…We must not allow our national parks and national forests to be degraded to the status of mere public playgrounds. Open to all, yes of course. But enter at your own risk.
Enter Glacier National Park and you enter the homeland of the grizzly bear. We are uninvited guests here, intruders, the bear our reluctant host. If he chooses, now and then, to chase somebody up a tree, or all the way to the hospital, that is the bear’s prerogative. Those who prefer, quite reasonably, not to take such chances should stick to Disneyland in all its many forms and guises.”
– from The Journey Home by Edward Abbey
It’s obvious that when hiking in bear country, one must be on the alert at all times. Conventional wisdom states that if a bear hears you coming, it will go away. If a bear does not hear you coming and you surprise it, there will likely be trouble. Bears, like my mother, do not like surprises. Continue reading “The Fellowship of the Bear”
The town of Hyder, Alaska, which had its heyday in the early 20th century when it was an important mining town, borders British Columbia on one side and the vast expanse of Misty Fiords National Monument on all others. In other words, Hyder is literally the end of the road. You cannot get anywhere else in Alaska by road from there, so it really is its own little outpost. According to several residents, the town has a year-round population of about 90-100 people. It expands somewhat during the summer months when tourists come out to look at the Salmon Glacier and look for bears. Hyder may be one of the tiniest towns that we have stopped in, but it has more character than most of the cities we’ve visited so far.