Tag Archives: grizzly bears

March 13, 2019 A backpacker above the Belly River Valley in Glacier National Park.

The Best Backpacking Trip in Glacier National Park

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By Michael Lanza

The three bighorn sheep lifted their heavily horned heads to gaze at us, but never budged from their beds of grass amid boulders on a mountainside above the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park. The mountain goats we saw on various occasions gave us little more attention than that. And fortunately, the grizzly bear sow with two cubs in tow that passed within about 30 feet of us—an encounter of less than 10 seconds that is etched into my memory forever—gave us no more than a passing glance.

Besides an array of wildlife on that weeklong hike through Glacier, two friends and I also saw an ocean of mountains spreading out before us, long escarpments of Glacier’s signature soaring cliffs, and some of the prettiest of the park’s 760 lakes. We even enjoyed an unexpectedly high degree of solitude for long stretches of a multi-day hike that hit many of the park’s highlights. Continue reading →

March 3, 2019 A black bear in Olympic National Park.

Ask Me: Should I Hike or Backpack Solo in Bear Country?

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Michael,

Here’s a question I’ve struggled with. Because of the timing of my trips, I often end up hiking and backpacking solo. I enjoy that (and enjoy groups). However, as a result, I’ve had a number of bear and moose encounters that have left me a little uncomfortable, and with a feeling of powerlessness in those situations. I’ve read about bear encounters and technically know what to do (making noise, etc.), but I’ve sometimes exhausted all those tricks and found myself still staring at a bear in my path. What do you recommend I do—especially about hiking solo? Continue reading →

June 11, 2015 Highline Trail, Glacier National Park.

Ask Me: How Hard Are the Trails in Glacier National Park?

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Dear Michael,

I am heading to Glacier National Park for the first time this August, planning dayhikes based out of the Many Glacier campsite. I’m confident in my abilities to easily handle all of these hikes but one: Logan Pass to Many Glacier in a day. There are two reasons for my doubt. The first is that I am from Columbus, Ohio. We are at an average elevation of about 270 meters. Obviously, the thinner air at elevation in Glacier is going to take its toll; that will be the highest I have ever been. The second reason is that I’ve only done one comparable hike (I think it compares), which was to the summit of Mount LeConte via the Alum Cave Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee. That was about 11 miles round trip, and about 2,800 feet gained on the way up. It was a challenge, sure, but less than I expected and I actually had quite a lot in reserve by the time we returned to the trailhead. Continue reading →

September 4, 2012

Descending the Food Chain: Backpacking Glacier National Park’s Northern Loop

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By Michael Lanza

Never mind that it was the seventh straight bluebird morning of backpacking in mountains that constantly look surreal, like a painted mural backdrop in a movie. It didn’t matter that the trip had been a parade of wildlife. We even forgot about the heaviness in our legs from 15-mile days.

The menacing snarl piercing the silence seized our full attention. Continue reading →