When you hit the trails in Grand Teton Park you will be reminded over and over again “Be Bear Aware”. Even the out houses, which by the way are very tidy considering they are used by millions of tourists, post warnings. When you perch for a pee, a sign on the back of the outhouse door offers wise advice.
“Do not feed the bears. Do not leave food around. If you see a bear, do not run. Carry bear spray.”
Before beginning our exploration, we stopped at the ranger station and bought an over priced 50-buck can of bear spray. I thought it was an -over-the-top-precaution tourist trap until we ran into Yogi. In true Wild West form, Gerald carried the repellent on his hip like a gun, ready to spray an attacking beast for protection.
At the Jenny Lake Trail, we started our hike and as usual I lagged a bit behind Gerald, the billy goat out front. I heard a rustling noise of what I thought was a small animal like a raccoon in the brush behind me. I turned around to see a big brown animal.
“Uh oh. A bear.”
My natural instinct was to run, which they warn you never to do. While back peddling in slow mo, the fearless Frenchman turned and charged toward the beast, dropped to his knee and began shooting. No, not bullets, or bear spray, but pictures. I held my breath in awe as Mr. Bear lumbered across the footpath 30 feet away.
For the rest of the hike, I tripped over boulders and stumps never paying attention to where I was stepping, because I was so busy scouting right and left in the berry patches and forests. I expected a grizzly to lumber out of woods any minute.
Further along our hike toward the water falls, we heard what sounded like campers singing, “Hi ho, hi ho its off to work we go” coming from the opposite direction
Around the next bend we crossed a family with 6 kids in matching T-shirts and marched by single file singing at the top of their lungs. “Keep your eyes peeled,” the mom said jiggled bells. “We crossed a grizzly on the path back there.”
“Whaaat???” said the Japanese couple behind us. Pointing to Gerald’s six-shooter on the hip, they asked, “Can we hike with you?”
We made it the falls without incident and headed across the river to the other side of trail along Jenny Lake where we met up with a French tourist. He warned, “On a juste passé un grizzly.”
They had been way laid by a grizzly that refused to budge from the trail where we were headed. To my relief and my husband’s disappointment we never faced off with Mr. Grizzly.
Later, when we met Canadians from Winnipeg, we warned them about bears and they scoffed, “It’s no big deal. At home Bears live in our backyard.”
I guess it is all what you get used to.
Seriously though do take precaution and play it smart if not yourself then for the wildlife. Bear in mind these sad statistics : fourteen bears are killed every year due to foolish tourists, so if you hike the Grand Tetons be bear aware as much for their safety as yours.
You brought me right there with you on that hike, Pat. Yikes! But I guess when you hike the Grand Tetons, you invade the bears’ territory. The vista is stunning. Thanks for sharing.
Yes, it is the bears’ territory. And it also belongs to deer, elk, moose, marmots and other birds and animals. We were so fortunate to see so much wildlife in their natural habitat.
Pat, you are way braver than I ever would be. I don’t think I’d even be in the area if I knew there were bears there. Or for sure, I’d be singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in rounds with everyone near me!
Too funny Tina. I can just picture you singing at the top of your lungs. But really, you should not be afraid of bears, you can still outrun them.
We have bears where we live, and they have become a big problem in rural areas especially. But those are black bears, not grizzlies. I would take those warnings very very seriously.
We have bears in Wisconsin too. Once we had one right in front of our cabin. Cute as they may be, I sure wouldn’t mess with them.
It sounds like an amazing hike. We saw a bear in the Canadian Rockies who had climbed up a tree. It’s incredible that such a big animal could climb that high. We used to live in the hills where coyotes walked down the street. As you said, once you get used to it, it’s not such a big deal.
I have seen bears before but I never saw one climb a tree. Nor have I ever seen coyotes prowling down the streets. Now that would take some getting used too.
Yow! Amazing and scary all at once!
It was scary and thrilling. My husband kept hoping to cross paths with a grizzly, but one bear on the trail was enough for me.
Glad you were OK. No fooling around with bears that is for sure. We carry bear bells, otherwise known as cowbells and keep up a steady conversation or singing to discourage bear curiosity.
Do you actually own bear bells? Are you living in bear country? Do tell.
Hehe, your differing personalities shine through in this one Pat. I was impressed by Gérald’s courage. And I understand your trepidation. Are you like that with mice too? I am ???? I wouldn’t want to meet a grizzly in the woods, so I’d be with you cowering at the back too. Your allusion to ‘BEAR in mind…’ made me giggle ???? xxx
Rach, I don’t think it reflects a personality difference, I think it shows an intelligence difference! What kind of idiot goes chasing after a bear only armed with a camera. ha ha No I am not afraid of mice, but that said, I hate hearing them traipsing through the house. I have lots of mice stories. Will safe them for another post sometime.