I've posted before my plans to adapt this blog into book form. Now that I've returned home from Glacier National Park, I feel that the time is right and I've officially begun. I had tried once or twice to write the beginnings of an introduction only to find that the opening is the most difficult part. I've now written a handful of pages in half an hour and the gates have finally been opened. Words and ideas are bursting forth now. The introduction, which I expected to be the hardest part, is now looking like a piece of cake. I still expect it to be a slow process, but at least the journey is finally underway.
My final days in Glacier proved to be of some interest. The black bear that I mentioned in the previous post returned while I was sitting outside my cabin one evening. he came down out of the woods, crossed the driveway, looked back at me for a moment, then hobbled on towards the river, a noticeable limp in one of his front legs. Word got around very quickly about the injury, but no one knew what had caused it. The bear seemed to disappear until just before I left town. I saw him that last night at the river. He appeared at dusk, still limping, swam across the water, and hobbled off into the woods, snapping sticks the whole way (I cannot stress the importance of snapping sticks while hiking. Every bear that I've heard in the woods has done this as they walked to warn other bears that a larger animal is approaching. This is a much more effective technique for recreationists than simply talking or yelling).
As incredible as the encounters with the black bear were, I longed to see a grizzly or, as the Indians called them, "the real bear", noting that the timid nature of the black bear doesn't even lump it into the same category. While camping at Many Glacier in late September, I got my wish. We had observed early that morning a young black and silver grizzly feeding on a hillside through binoculars. A hike to spectacular Iceberg Lake later that morning brought us to the crest of that same hillside and, waiting in the trail about a mile in and 100 yards or so away, was that very same grizzly. He had been walking the trail headed in our direction until he saw us coming, then he seemed to become undecisive as to what he should do. We could easily see that the bear's mouth was hanging open like a dog's, a clear body language signal that indicated complete relaxation. He was not at all stressed to encounter us. We waited in the trail for a long time, watching him as he foraged for wild flowers. He started moving further up the trail and we moved with him, keeping him in sight but maintaining that 100 yard distance. Other hikers showed up and we all just stood, watching quietly. It was late in the season after all when bears are forced to scramble for calories to get them through hibernation, so we didn't want to push him away if he had found a viable food source. Finally, he seemed to sense that we wanted to move on and he moved off the trail and down the slope into thick grass, allowing us to pass only thirty feet away. We didn't see him again, but we did stand six feet away from a mother deer and her young and were pleasantly surprised to find the lake still very much full of ice, making it a very good trip all around!
Back to work on the book for now. I'll keep providing updates and offer a link to the book on this site when it's finished.