The bears are all around this year. Some say there’s not enough food. Others say they’ve had a very profligate couple of years and there are just a lot of them looking for food. Going into Portal is like hitting Costco. Food samples everywhere. Generous stores of bird food abound. There’s even a bunch of fruit trees. Word is five bears have been removed from town this year. Males get exterminated. Females get a second chance. It’s sad.
Many of this year’s Portal Irish Music Week staff and students reported sightings as they walked and drove from classroom to hike to session. SOme were shaken and others thrilled. I was jealous. Burt and I didn’t see any. We heard one in a neighbor’s yard and I found a large print in the sand between our gNash and the lodge. Then just a night or two ago we were walking home in the dark from a friend’s and there was mister bear. I suddenly had sympathy for our timid clients. In the dark, on foot, in brushy country was not the time to wake up a bear sleeping in the creek. I admit I was more than a bit excited and not in the all good way. Mr. Sleepyhead woke himself up and took in our proximity and headed away from us. He was a big boy and I appreciate he decided to give up his bed and let us by without a toll.
So I forgot this tidbit of an event. While driving from Whitefish back to Dupuyer with the Sea King Burt spotted a bear. Actually it was three bears. We turned around and so did every one else on that stretch of highway. One van was full of Hutterite women and kids. Here’s a definition of Hutterite: a member of either an Anabaptist Christian sect established in Moravia in the early 16th century, or a North American community holding similar beliefs and practicing an old-fashioned communal way of life. Hutterites do not shun technology. Here’s a link to their own web page: Hutterites.org. You can read more there. I just learned that music is a big part of their culture. That makes me even happier that they so obviously enjoyed our show the other night. And we shared a moment of joy watching three bears along the highway. The bears’ necessity was a cow carcass in the creek.
We’re still up in the north end Flathead Valley. Rain again after a couple of partly cloudy days. Our Mexican tans are fading but our leisure time activities continue. This week we played Bridge twice and took a couple more hikes. Today, while Burt lends a hand helping build a place with his daughter’s boyfriend, I did the taxes. Better late than never. Actually, we had a perfectly legal extension. I could do them on time from Mexico because all the information I seek is on-line somewhere but I prefer waiting until I have paper in hand and the mail doesn’t reach Mexico. Usually. This year Sue brought it down in May but today was the first suitably rainy day with Burt out of the house. As usual I did my best to get them right but being self-employed makes for some bewildering tax questions.
This week’s hike idea came courtesy of Jen. Jen formerly guided backpacking trips in Glacier National Park but since the park forbids canine companions we have to hike on the perimeter. Stanton Lake is just across Hwy 2 from the boundary and located in the Great Bear Wilderness area. Jen had never done it but heard it was a great walk for dogs with nice views. As usual we birded for a portion of the walk, ate snacks, and broke up a dog fight. Okay, the dog fight was not usual. Olive is a bit of a tyrant around smaller dogs on leashes. Normally we do not see many dogs smaller than Olive hiking in the wilderness on a leash. A couple of days ago Olive tried to kill a very small and insecure Chihuahua type dog. It wasn’t remotely funny. What an Ass-hat she can be. The other dog parents were very understanding and had hardly an evil word for us or Olive. Despite the nastiness and length of the altercation there was no sign of visible injuries to the kitten sized dog. Olive was leashed from that moment onward.
The hike culminates at the head of Stanton Like about 2 miles from the trailhead. You can see Great Northern Mountain to the south and a few peaks in Glacier National Park to the north. On the lake we spotted a pair of looms and a lone baby loon. Loons are not prolific reproducers. They lay one or three eggs a year so this was a happy spot. I also found a lovely white crab spider eating a fly. AT the head of the lake the brush along the trail became menacingly high and thick. You wouldn’t see bear in here until it was gnawing on your leg. Also not funny, last week a guy crashed into a bear near here on his mountain bike and was summarily dispatched by the bear. Species unknown. So the idea of crashing into a bear does not appeal. We took the heavy brush as a cue to turn back towards the car.
Dear reader Pat and friends and clients Bonnie and Rolf and Howard and Carol spent a week hiking here last year and almost every day was filled with view impairing and lung clogging smoke. At least the rain is preventing that this year.
Next up we’re heading into the Yaak. Notorious and remote the Yaak harbors weirdness and possibly Bigfoot. Transmission might be delayed. Late next week we’ll be back in Helena for doctor’s appointments and gigs.