Friday, June 29, 2012

Charged by a Grizzly Sow

Yep - thought I'd get right to the point with that title. No guessing here.

We were walking returning along a boardwalk trail from a nice dip at the
White Sulphur Hot Springs, chatting away, when we heard THE SNORT.

Our ears picked up. I hear John murmur, "there's a has a cub".
This is not good news.

The cub quickly scampers up a tree, and the sow turns to us. This all
happens in a milli-second, and I'm still processing what that SNORT implies.
John turns and says, "RUN". Oh gawd. The fear of running in full yellow
slicker raingear, down a slipperier-than-snot boardwalk from a charging
behemoth of a grizzly bear is significant, I assure you. Of course, in my
mind, I'm thinking, this is bad, really bad. I glance over my shoulder, John
is herding me along, and this BIG BLACK face is barrelling down the trail
after us. Again - Oh GAWD.

Somehow, we decide to stop running. We've only gone maybe 20 meters or so,
but we both know you are not supposed to run. But, I've discovered it is
really hard to NOT run, from a charging bear. I cower behind a tree, John is
beside me with his pack in front of him, ready to throw it at the bear or
something. But she stops. She roars. She paws at the ground. She stands on
her hind legs. OK OK I get it. We're SO leaving.

She made these marks after stopping her charge...just 20 feet from us!

We high tail it back the way we came. It felt like we'd only been walking
for a few minutes before we met the bear, but our return trip to the
springs, and the comforting variety of guns that we'd seen there, seemed to
take an eternity. We were both babbling with the shock of what just happened
and grinning from ear to ear with the luck of being able to walk away. We
also were both straining our necks behind us to be sure she didn't change
her mind.

The crew was surprised to see us return so quickly, and were pretty alarmed
at our story. It turns out that this is not a normal Alaskan experience,
even for these guys, who live in the wilderness for months at a time. Simian
and Jenson were planning on exploring the trail anyway, so they offered to
walk back with us. After resting for an hour or so, we prepared for second
attempt to return down the trail with our dinghy.

As much as I hate guns, I've never been happier to see a couple guys holster
their pistols, and load up the shotgun. On the return trip, we saw the trail torn up with huge paw prints, and saw where she stopped, only 20 feet from the tree I was 'hiding' behind.

We didn't see mama and her cub again.


Willem said...

Wow! What a story!
Take care!

A Small Nest

Naomi said...

Very memorable, indeed!

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