View Full Version : pants down grizzly encounter

2008-04-22, 14:28
In 2001 my brother and I hiked from south-central Wyoming to Canada. It took us 4 months and we hiked/snowshoed over 700 miles - hands down the best summer of my life! The first 2 months we encountered a total of 2 groups of people, and one group was a NOLS instructor training group.

In early June we hiked through the headwaters of the Yellowstone River, which is the most remote area in the Continental US and also prime grizzly habitat. We set up camp one night, had dinner, and then decided to go for an evening stroll. We were switchbacking up a White Pine hillside, when I suddenly felt a poo coming on strong. I ran up the hill, in between the switchbacks, and dropped trow. I was "in the act" when a small black bear pounded across the hillside above me. Instantly, I knew it a grizzly cub. Without pulling up my britches, I began waddling (half jumping) down the hillside having fortunately completed the first phase of "the act" when I caught my pants on a branch and toppled head over heals down to the trail.

My brother looked at me like I was an idiot and said "dude, what are you doing - that was a black bear." We argued about it for a moment as I was standing up, when suddenly a huge brown grizzly bear walked out from the trees sniffing the air about 30 yards uphill from us. She hadn't seen us yet when my brother said outloud "oh shit." She heard his ignorant muttering and looked down at us. Her hair bristled, and she began jumping up and down, pounding the ground with her paws. I could physically feel her rage in my body as she swung her head, slobber spraying out from the sides of her mouth. It was the most terrifying moment of my life, as I stood watching her prepare to kill us with my pants (and underwear) around my ankles.

Thankfully she retreated back into the trees without charging us, and in the end it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life - a raw, vulnerable (to say the least) encounter with one of the most amazing animals on our planet. As we walked back down the trail, I nearly collapsed, not because of my pants around my ankles, because I pulled those up, but because my knees were so weak from being scared they barely held my weight. Moral of the story: don't poop in grizzly country if you can help it.

lucky luke
2008-04-22, 15:52
hi innermtn,

isnīt the saying: never poop between a cub and his mother?

but then, maybe if it smells bad enough you might be the lucky one in this argument.

happy trails
lucky luke

2008-04-22, 17:00
Very true Lucky Luke! Seeing as how we had been eating cous cous and dehydrated beans for weeks, it might not have been a bad idea!:biggrin:

2008-04-23, 14:25
I gotta say innermountain that the description you gave and the visual that it created in me is hilarious. I laughed out loud at the picture of someone standing there, pants at their knees and horror on their face. It wouldn't have been nearly as funny if the Griz ate your brother.

Sounds like a great trip. man I envy people that take advantage of that kind of time off. probably forged a much stronger bond w/ your brother also.

2008-04-23, 18:52
Hi Envirodiver,

Yeah, it was an amazing trip. I think back about it often. And it did strengthen my brother's and my relationship a lot - 4 months in the wilderness with someone as close your brother is like a forest fire, it burns up a lot of old trash so new growth can happen. We're now best friends and learned to climb and mountaineer together after that summer.

Glad you got a laugh out of the story!


2008-04-24, 19:13
From your description of the bears reaction, it sounds like it got a real big whiff with that sensitive nose that brought tears to it's eyes! If it could talk, it might have said "DANG! Dude !! What have you been EATING, Peeeee You!!" It could have been what what saved your skin. Very glad to hear you and bro' stayed safe. I know of a different in counter , in Yellowstone Park, that came out much worse. You were most fortunate.
When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, we had a kid on our block that would pick up dog shit and throw it. He was our secret weapon when dealing with neighboring kids. Never failed to save us. Sent them RUNNING! Nice to know it works on Grizzlies too. SS :captain:

2008-04-28, 00:37
I'ld love to hear how your brother tells that story! LOL!

2008-04-28, 12:24
I'ld love to hear how your brother tells that story! LOL!

I'd like to hear the bear's version.

2008-04-28, 13:54
Had I been in your shoes, I would have felt fortunate that my pants were still around my ankles. When the adult bear came over the top of the hill I know I would have squeezed out about another teaspoon.