Hiking in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park is beautiful, but it’s an adrenaline rush, because bears like it too.
Case in point, our hike to Lake Josephine. One day in August my husband Mike and I donned our backpacks and planned to tackle the 5.8-mile loop. We made it almost half way when hikers coming toward us warned that a grizzly was up the hill just a few hundred feet ahead.
“He’s a small one,” they said as they dashed away.
We stood still and reached for our bear spray. Inching forward, we became aware of every wisp of wind, every snap of a branch.
“Maybe he’s gone already,” Mike said.
“Or not.” My eyes scoured the brush for dark fur.
“He probably just wants to go down to the lake for a drink.”
“But that’s where we’re going.”
Mike had his bear spray in hand now, his thumb on the trigger. “I don’t want to turn around.”
“I don’t want to turn around either.”
A few more steps. Then, a huffing sound, and a teenage-sized bear popped out on the path! He stared at us. We stared at him. Neither party moved.
Until we did. Slowly we turned and walked back the way we came. We turned to look again. Teen Grizzly poked his head out from behind a rock. You could see his expression change, as if to say, “Seriously? You’re still here? You guys are messing up my plans.”
I took out my phone to record the silly moment, but in my flustered state, I failed to click the start button until I was finished, so all I have to show for our bear encounter is a short video of my phone going back into my pocket.
After a few intense seconds, Teen Grizzly crossed the path and disappeared on his way down to the lake. We finished our hike with elevated heart rates after our shocking reminder that big-time wildlife frequents the paths of Glacier National Park.
I don’t like when things like that happen! But when they do, I consider it a warning, and I try to learn something from it. On this hike, I learned to expect to see bears on the paths when hiking in Glacier, make lots of noise along the way, watch more closely, and keep my bear spray within reach, not in the side pocket of my backpack!
Likewise, Peter warns us about a spiritual danger for Christians:
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. 1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT