June 18, 2011
We didn't know we'd encounter two bears in a matter of hours, but Greg Fortin and I knew we were in for an adventure when we started pedaling away from Glacier Park's Avalanche Campground parking lot at 8:20 last Friday night. It was an absurdly late time to head into Glacier's bear-riddled backcountry, but, as a smiling old man once said to me when he saw me bicycle touring in a rainstorm, "You go when you can."
We only had 48 hours before backcountry permit officials, concerned we'd interfere with road crews plowing record snow off Going To The Sun Road, insisted we be back. The road crews might have been miserable, but we weren't going to let that magnificent, once in a lifetime June snowpack go to waste. We were going to ski. With tent, sleeping bags, skis, and food for two days in our bike trailers, we set off for the mountains.
Five minutes later an enormous, glistening scat pile appeared in the road. Seconds later came the bear. Neither of us noticed it until the moment we passed it, standing on its hind legs and staring at us intensely not 20 feet to my right.