Kootenay National Park: Wrong Place, Wrong Time

The encounter happened to the left of the trail where it enters into the trees.

The encounter happened to the left of the trail where it enters into the trees.

This is a story shared by one of our readers who did not leave his/her name. Thank you for your contribution!

On Monday, September 16th 2013, we pulled into the parking lot by the kindersley/sinclair loop trail head.

A couple from Montreal asked if they could hike with my buddy and I. We agreed, introduced ourselves and off we went. After all this is bear country, and you must hike in at least a group of four or more. the trail was very good but there was a lot of thick brush along the sides of the trail.

We had hiked about 3 to 4 miles.(single file with myself being the last of the four) all of a sudden I saw the 3 in front of me turn their heads to their right (looking down slope) and quickly scoot forward. Looking back now, I  realize when you hike in groups, you should not leave a large gap between each other.

Our Grizzly Encounter

Now, I am separated from the other 3 hikers by about 30 feet. A grizzly cub crosses the trail, then the sow, and another cub come up from below the trail, all between myself and the other 3. The sow is growling the whole time.

They all crossed the trail and head up the slope towards the woods. Wow! That was a close call. Glad it’s over!! WRONG!

Not sure if I made a step to quickly regroup with my hiking partners or if the sow just saw me as a threat. It all happened so fast.

The Charge

She was about 20 feet up the slope when she made a u-turn and charged right down at me, the whole time growling. I stood still and thought to myself, “I hope she doesn’t swat me.”

Charging straight at me, she then swerved around the right side of me at the last second. She got about 10 feet behind me (never turning my back to her) and did the same thing: Right at me and then swerved around me at the last second.

She then went about 5 feet in front of me and made one more pass at me.(each time getting about 30 inches from me) then she made a wide sweeping loop between myself and the other 3 and headed up into the woods with her cubs.

As I joined my buddy and the couple from Canada we talked about what just happened.

They said they heard the mother grizzly growling from below them before they ever saw her. They moved forward and I was too far behind them. I never herd her until I saw her appear. Talk about bad timing.

We were walking along the side of the mountain, the mom and cubs were coming up it. She never saw or smelled us, and we never saw or heard them until we met.

With a cub in front of her, she couldn’t stop and let her cub continue into what she perceived as danger. She had to defend her young.

We continued on our hike and finished our loop. I must have replayed that experience a thousand times in my head that day. When we got back to the parking lot we all hugged and talked about the hike none of us will ever forget.

Learn more about hiking in grizzly bear habitat and how to avoid a grizzly bear attack.

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