High in a remote corner of the Swan Valley we roll around a bend in the trail — 11-year-old Silas, 7-year-old Jonah, and me on one colossal mountain bike we call the Teasdale Train — when suddenly it’s there, not more than 30 feet away: a grizzly bear on its hind legs. I grab the brake levers of our rolling 200-pound behemoth and, in a motion practiced countless times, whip bear spray out of my pack’s side pocket the instant my feet hit the ground. As the boys would later revel in telling friends and family members, “Then dad said the ‘S’ word!”
The bear, it turns out, is tiny — which is even scarier than being huge. As the kids stare wide-eyed at the bruin, I twist my neck from side to side and scan the greenery for sound or movement. There is only one electric thought in my mind: Where’s mom?