Camping, Boating, and Bears! (Part Two)
We awoke happily after a night of pelting rain, which our dad said sounded like everyone in the campground was clapping. We put on our clothes and exited our tent. We gulped down Boost and ate cinnamon bread for breakfast. Our dad had come on the camping trip to photograph bears and the entire Many Glacier area in Glacier National Park is well known for its great bear viewing. We had already seen a bear on the Iceberg Lake trail, and our dad thought that it would be a great idea to hike that trail again. Soon, we walked to the trailhead where we set out for Iceberg Lake. As we started up the incline, a couple with horses passed us. Soon we passed a side trail with an orange warning sign that said BEAR DANGER, this area closed due to bears. We were a little scared and continued on. The trail flattened out and we enjoyed the sights. We walked along the trail, which runs through an alpine meadow with rocky cliffs that rise up along the side. Before long, we spotted some bear scat with what appeared to be the berries of a Mountain Ash. The huckleberries were past their prime and evidently, the bears were foraging for other sources of food. Before long, we got to Ptarmigan Falls, where we had a quick break. After what seemed like seconds, we got back on the trail. Soon, we arrived at the location where we had previously seen a bear cross the trail. Continuing on, we came to the tree where a bear had scratched. It was obvious that a bear had scratched the tall tree because of the claw marks on it. We trudged on along the trail.
As we walked along, we marveled at the glaciers, which we knew were above Iceberg Lake. They had distinct faces on them. These glaciers rested on the cirque, which went around Iceberg Lake. Soon we stopped at a spot where previously we had seen mountain goats. There, we gazed up to look through our binoculars at bighorn sheep. We knew that by that time, we were close to the end of the trail. We continued, and finally saw the pond that was connected to Iceberg Lake. Happiness struck because we knew that just around the bend was Iceberg Lake.
A couple told us that there was a mama bear and her cub on the mountainside above the lake. We had not yet reached the lake and spotted the bears on the hillside. They looked like tree stumps to the naked eye, but were obviously grizzly bears through magnification. We arrived at Iceberg Lake. It was early September and summer had melted the icebergs in the lake. We walked along the rocky beach to get closer to the bears. At that location, binoculars were not needed to identify the two animals. We relaxed and enjoyed watching the bears. We felt safe, since the bears seemed fairly far away. Our mom and dad took snapshots while we looked at the bears through binoculars and ate our snacks. The bears were on a talus slope and we had trouble figuring out what they were doing hanging around on the rocks. Just as we were opening our pudding packs, the bears started running down the mountain! At that moment, Dad snapped a picture.
“Time to go, folks,” a man said.
His words are famous to this day. In a nervous flurry, we snatched up our things and trotted away. It was very nerve-racking and the excitement made our hearts race. We made it to where most of the people were. I, “M” was especially nervous as we stood awaiting the next move the bears would make. We realized that the cub was quite large. The animals were quite close and if they wanted to, they could attack. The mother bear disappeared while the cub watched.The bear could attack! Finally, after a while, the bear went back into the woods. We quickly walked back down along the trail. We could only think about the scary incident that had happened before.
On the way back down the trail, a lady told us that up ahead, about half a mile or so, a sow and two cubs were spotted. Our mom said the lady looked nervous and frightened. Mom and Dad kept us together, and acted as if a bear was going to attack us. We stopped to look up the hill and check for bears, when I, “E” heard a bear grunt. I told everyone this, but for some reason, they didn’t believe me. Mom though, told everyone to start back down the trail because of this, but our dad didn’t. He kept on looking up the hill. A terrifying crack and the bushes shaking like a giant animal was moving, surprised us. Looking back, we saw our dad sort of jog away when this happened. Now he believed that the bear really was there. Continuing down the trail at a faster pace, we finally got back to camp.
It was still early in the day, so we changed into our tennis shoes and hung around our campsite. Our mom sent us over to the general store with a little money to buy postcards. We bought some nice postcards. On our way out, we saw some people eating ice cream, which looked delicious. To our parents, we suggested getting ice cream. Our dad said that he was thinking about getting some.
Later in the day, after playing in the amphitheater, and having fun, we went over to the general store and got yummy soft serve. Mom, “M”, and “E” had huckleberry and vanilla swirl, while Dad had vanilla soft serve. While we were eating the ice cream, a church service was going on in the amphitheater behind our campsite. We decided to go. The two of us sat down behind everyone. Finally, when the service was over, we scampered away.
That night, we all snuggled down into our sleeping bags and wrote our postcards by lantern-light. I, “M” could not get to sleep. The day had been full of scary bear encounters, and the campsite was filled with sounds. Behind our campsite was pure grizzly bear country. Soon, I heard something. It was right next to the tent. From the way its footsteps sounded, I presumed it was a deer. Later that night, a silence fell upon the area. I imagined the scene. I could hear the grunts, snorts, and footsteps of a bear. I felt sure that the animal would come at any second. The terror was awful. After a while, I decided that if a bear was to come, it would. I didn’t have to stay up waiting for it. That night, the wind blew like a hurricane, lifting up the fly of our tent.
In the morning, after an otherwise peaceful night, we woke up. After taking the tent down, we headed on our way. Our dad explained about terminal moraines. He described how all of the hills in that area were made of the debris pushed by glaciers. The Going to the Sun Road was beautiful. It was different than it had ever looked before. The mountains looked different and riding in the vehicle felt different. In the end, we got back home all in one piece. Our camping trip was successful.
- A woman was killed by a bear in the Many Glacier Campground on 9/23/76 (31 years ago)
- No one has ever been killed by a bear on the Iceberg Lake Trail
- The hike is about 10 miles round trip