What the Mountains Give
Writer and photographer Aaron Teasdale recently took his Osprey pack out on an adventure in Glacier National Park, complete with cycling and skiing.
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, 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.
“Whoah!” we said simultaneously, looking at each other with the universal “holy crap we just saw a bear!” expression of raised eyebrows, open mouths, and bug eyes. We laughed, but I saw bears everywhere after that. Trees, stumps, rocks, everything looked like a lurking bruin in the dimming light. Still, we pedaled higher and higher into the mountains until, just as the day’s last light ebbed from the sky, we reached the trail to Granite Park where we planned to camp for the next two nights.
Stashing the bikes, we strapped skis to our packs and started walking. We’d been fairly jovial while pedaling, but now that it was dark and we were making our way through an eery burned forest, our mood mellowed. Darkness does that. Especially darkness in wild places full of bears when you’re the only humans for many miles around.
Read the full post, complete with excellent photos.