We returned from our hike to Iceberg Lake feeling exhausted and a little sore. I plunked down at the picnic table, removed my socks and shoes, and gave my feet a self-massage. I knew I shouldn’t get too comfortable because we were going horseback riding, and that meant we had to leave as soon as possible in order not to miss the next trail ride. We quickly drove over to the camp store, bought overflowing cups of soft serve, and headed out toward Swan Range Outfitters.
We looked at the sign and were thrilled to find out that a one-hour ride would be available at any time we desired. I tried to gobble down my soft serve, but was simply too nervous! E and I put our ice cream in the ice chest. The family trooped out of the van, and we all grabbed helmets. After looking at the horses and choosing our favorites, we signed a waiver.
There were many dangers listed which made me a little anxious. After a brief lesson on horseback riding, we were all assigned horses. E and I were lucky enough to get the horses that we had wanted. E got the spot right behind the guide; I came next, then Dad, and lastly Mom.
I gave my horse, Coffee, a good kick, and we were on our way. Through the woods we went along a rocky trail. We had been going for about 20 minutes when Dad shouted out his trademark, “BEAR!!!!!”
My eyes flew to a large bear swaggering along the trail towards us. It seemed not to notice our presence, but I knew something was going to happen. I was fearful. Would my horse go dashing through the woods and knock me off, I wondered? After walking towards us for a few steps, the bear suddenly charged!! E was video recording the whole time and the charge was captured on video.
Now let’s hear E’s side of the story: I stepped into the saddle and noticed that sitting on a horse’s back was not as frightening as I had expected. I waited for everyone to get on their horses, and then we started out. I was right behind our trail guide, Esther, and had a closer view of what was ahead than the rest of the family.
Soon after we started out, my horse, Digger, tripped, but without injury to either of us. I was scared that he would fall while we rode down a steep rocky hill. About 30 or 40 minutes into the fun but uneventful ride, Esther stopped our horses. I knew why, for I had seen it too. A large and broad brown colored bear stood in the trail.
Dad said, “Bear!” and the rest of our party was alerted to the animal. After a moment, I got my Flip video camera out of my saddlebag. We were all trying to figure out if it was a grizzly or black bear, and when I was deciding that it was a black bear, he started walking toward us. It then began to lope towards us, and my previously calm horse wheeled around. I was very scared, but I knew I wasn’t going to die.
“Hey bear! Hey bear!” yelled our trail guide, and waved her arms in the air.
The bear veered off its course, and went off the trail. My breath was heavy, and my heart was beating fast.
Dad calmly said, “We just got a bluff charge.”
Two hiker women followed up the trail, as Mom, Dad, and Esther yelled, “Bear!”
The women caught up with us and stayed close behind, so that we could protect them from a possible encounter. We rode back to the stables where the wrangler who helped me off of my horse asked if anything had happened on the ride. I replied yes, and said that we were bluff charged by a bear. He asked what my horse did, and I told him that my horse wheeled around.
Luckily, the bear terminated the charge and retreated into the woods. Obviously, my horse loved me because before we left he nuzzled and licked me.
After our horse riding adventure, we returned to our campsite and then went to the lobby of the motel to relax. Exhausted, we all clumped onto the sofa in the Swiftcurrent Motel. Sitting on soft cushions was more preferable to sitting at a cold campsite. As we relaxed, we observed two rangers walking into the lobby and heading towards a man who was sitting on another sofa. The female ranger pulled on a latex glove and started talking to the man in a quiet mysterious way.
My first reaction was that he was drunk and they were evicting him from the lobby. But why did she wear a glove? People started to mill around the sofa but we kept our spot. The guy seemed rather distressed as the ranger spoke to him like a cop trying not to make a scene. I was watching this strange incident when Mom said, “He has a tick!” I was mystified. Why were there rangers because the guy had a tick? (As in jerking his head kind of tick).
Then I realized the rangers were there to remove a tick from the man’s arm. I heard him saying that he had gone on the Grinnell Glacier Trail and that he had taken a shower. The tick was still there. The ranger got out a tweezers and pulled the bug from the man’s skin. After a few minutes, the rangers were on their way.
This strange man must be from another state, because a Montanan would have removed the tick themselves. The man left the lobby and we soon left as well. I imagine he figured it was better to be safe than sorry, although I do think those rangers snickered about him afterwards.
Well, we’re back home from our trip and E took some great video!