Friday, July 10, 2009

Glacier National Park

I was originally kind of excited about the prospects of running at Glacier National Park. I heard there were great trails to be run. My anticipation was quickly tempered after our arrival. I knew Glacier was bear country and was already a bit apprehensive about running there. When we checked into our campground, my fears were magnified by the ranger. She said there had been bear and cougars near the campground lately. I asked her about running and she looked at me like she didn’t approve of the idea. She asked me if I had bear spray. When I replied that I did not, she said that I could pick some up at the camp store. When I went to the camp store, I found out that the cost of their bear spray (basically strong pepper spray) was $49.99. After considering this, I decided to not buy it. I did, however, find a bell that I could attach to my shoe for $4.99. I bought the bell. I guess that indicates that I place the value of my life somewhere between $4.99 and $49.99.

When we got into our campground, I discovered that our particular campground really didn’t have any trails very close to it (we were on the west end of McDonald Lake, which is one of the lower spots in Glacier). I wasn’t sure when I was going to run or where. The next morning we got up early to get to Logan Pass so we could do some hiking up there. There are really some great hikes available up that way and I would love to do some running up there, but I didn’t have the time this trip. We got back to the campground sometime after 6pm and I decided to chance a short run.

I attached the bell to my shoe and set out. People in the campground looked at me kind of strangely as I went by and dogs all over the campground went crazy when they heard my jingle. I pressed on. I did find a short trail about ¾ mile from the campground and, after running it once and not seeing bears, decided to run it again and hope my luck held. Part of it went through a burnt-out part of the forest and every black stump looked like a bear. I decided to break off on a side trail but shortly discovered a pile of poop in the trail. The recommendation from all the park literature said to turn back if you find fresh bear feces so I looked at it closely. I was 95% sure it was horse crap but decided I didn’t want to stake my life on my poop-reading ability so I turned around. My run ended up being 5 miles and I encountered no animals but deer and squirrels. The bell made me feel a little safer, but only a little.

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