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Glacier National Park

Seeing a Grizzly in the wild for the first time is something we won’t ever forget.

On our first morning in West Glacier, we woke up really early to drive around and see if we could spot one. Five minutes later, around 6 am, there it was. A beautiful, healthy, young grizzly. It was probably two years old, had just left its mother after hibernation and was looking for a place to live on its own. It was really close to the car when we saw it (about 30/40 yards), but as soon as we stopped, it ran away. Then, it stopped at around 100 yards from us, and looked back. “What are those scary creatures?”, he probably wondered. We took some pictures and he ran away again.

Seeing a grizzly for the first time is magical. There is excitement, there is wonder, there is fear, and there is a dream-like feeling that you are not quite yourself.

Our first encounter with a grizzly was the perfect encounter : very safe, not too far but not too close, and of course a scared and non agressive bear.

We saw this grizzly a few times more, in the car and always in the same area, and once, when hiking with a very nice couple we met there. Every time, it ran away.

We stayed 10 days in Glacier National Park. Waking up at six, we would drive around very slowly until nine o’clock, and do the same thing again from about 6 to 9 pm. The weather was with us, and the wildlife abundant. Bearwise, we saw 5 grizzlies (one of them being a cutie one-year old) and 7 black bears (3 of them were adorable little cubs. Unfortunately, they were too far away to take pictures of).

Alex went out of the car sometimes, to have a better angle, or to get closer (while staying not too far from the car, and his bear-spray ready). I was terrorized, waiting for Alex to return in the car, or to jump out of the car, screaming and bear-spraying (fortunately, the latter only happened in my imagination). I still wonder what is the most stressing situation, mine or his.

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Benton Lake NWR & Freezout Lake WMA

For some time now, we have been looking for the well-known image : Canada and Snow Geese in the thousands flying up during their migration. In New-Mexico, we came two weeks too late. In Wyoming, it was also too late already. And again, at Benton and Freezout Lakes in Montana, we were just a few days too late. Those geese went too fast for us!

On the other hand, we got to see many other cute and beautiful animals!

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Bear Creek Cabin & Helena National Forest

We fell in love with the state of Montana. It was good that we still had one month on our USA-visa : we could take our time exploring this wonderful area.

We decided to rent a little forest Cabin in Bear Creek near Ennis. It was great to change our habits for some time : making fires in the little stove, feeling like trappers in the middle of nowhere. Hiking, we stumbled upon huge Grizzly tracks. It’s funny how imagination runs fast when you see something like that. We decided to walk back quickly to our safe cabin, singing and talking as loud as possible, our bear-spray ready at hand.

Weeks later, we met a very nice couple who used to work for the National Forest Service around that area. They told us a scary story about a friend of theirs who got attacked by a Grizzly there. He made a video just after the attack, which got viral on YouTube. For the people who might be worried, this kind of thing almost never happens. Ticks can be far more dangerous than Grizzlies 🙂

Our next stop was Helena National Forest. Covering 984,558 acres (3,984.36 km2), the forest is broken into several separate sections, all around the city of Helena. It is a true haven for nature-lovers, hikers, fishermen, and of course wildlife, which is incredibly diverse. Grizzlies and black bears are present in certain areas (like almost everywhere in Montana). Wolves, bobcats, mountain lions and lynx are also living there but rarely seen. Elk, moose, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats are more numerous and more likely to be seen. Along streams and lakes, bald eagles and other raptors such as ospreys are becoming more common thanks to the protection of their environment.