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Wandering griz clears popular Glacier National Park Trail

Staff Writer | August 12, 2020 6:57 AM

A young single grizzly bear, who may have received a food reward from a hiker’s backpack, caused the closure of Avalanche Lake trail Thursday.

A couple hiking in the area reported an encounter with the bear sometime around noon that day. According to park officials who had spoken to the reporting party, the hikers had been at the head of the lake near the waterfalls when the bear emerged from the brush nearby. Startled and shaken, the hikers apparently retreated into the brushy northeast edge of the lake, where there is no trail, and proceeded to bushwhack towards the foot of the lake.

Officials noted the bear did not seem to charge the hikers, but did begin to walk behind them in the same direction.

After some distance along the lake, the couple tried walking in the water, hoping it would be faster than walking in the brush. After discovering the lake bed was thick with muck that slowed them down even more, they decided to swim across the lake towards a crowd of people gathered where the trail emerges near the Avalanche Creek.

The Hungry Horse News was at the lake at the time of the incident and photographed the bear as it walked the shoreline.

Before swimming, the hikers abandoned their packs near the shore. It was unknown whether the bear, following at a distance, actually found and got into the packs.

Swimming is not a good way to get away from a bear — bears are excellent swimmers.

The bear continued along the shoreline down into the Avalanche Creek bed which parallels the trail, paying little attention to the throngs of people nearby.

As of Monday, the Avalanche Lake trail was still closed.