As quick as the snapping of a pine branch just a few yards behind us, Tom yelled bear and his horse bolted after the grizzly that stepped out onto the trail. With a shot of adrenalin my horse came alive and like a rocket blasted off following Tom into the forest racing toward the dark brown blur sprinting away.
My heart pounded in my throat. Blue the appaloosa I was riding was all fearless energy. In unison we jumped a log running at full throttle. I ducked hugging Blue’s mane when a thick aspen branch took a shot at my head and remained fluid in the saddle. I was thrilled beyond belief.
It lasted a mere thirty seconds. The grizzly bear disappeared in the thick pine growth. We pulled up to a halt, still whooping and hollering at the bear, having chased him away from our camp area.
We were five days into a spectacular pack trip in the Monument section of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. Tom Heintz, who owns Medicine Lake Outfitters, www.medicinelakeoutfitters.com, and a long time friend, invited me to do some exploring before the summer season began so we could get some new photos he could use for publicity.
Just the night before during a full moon I saw the silhouette of that bear appear across my tent. I sat up suddenly shaking in my sleeping bag. When he reached the door of my tent the whole side folded in and quickly popped back out. Then silence.
I don’t know how long I sat there waiting for his entry but there was nothing. The next morning after telling Tom about the almost invasion he noticed the claw marks down the rain fly of my dome tent. It was like a telling scar. Proof I was not dreaming.
It marked the importance of keeping a clean camp and respecting wilderness rules.
We continued a more calm exploration of a rocky ridge and found ourselves with an excellent view out on a precipice with three sides that plummeted several hundred feet to a valley below and figured it was a great place for lunch.
Dismounted we walked the horses to the edge reliving the excitement of the chase. Looking back toward the trail we had just came from we both realized where we were and how vulnerable the situation was if that pissed off bear returned to chase us.
We were out of there in seconds with nervous laughter in the air and another adventurous memory.
For more information on the Lee Metcalf Wilderness contact the Gallatin National Forest at 406-587-2520 or http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/gallatin/
Photographs used in this post are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography, 2009, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited without the written permission of Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography. An image catalog can be viewed at http://www.rangeofvisionphotos.com . You can contact me through this blog or through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org