I’m envious, that sounds like a great hike. It’s great fishing for Cutthroat trout if you fish. I can’t remember exactly when we were there. In July some time as I recall. I did the hike about 4 years ago, so all the particulars are not really fresh in my mind. As far as the bear encounter, I was with my son who was about 9 or 10 at the time. We were on our way back out and were about 10 miles from the trailhead. We stopped and made camp, cooked dinner, cleaned everything up and then hung all the food with the cook pot in a tree. Feeling good about getting all the chores done, we then grabbed the fly rod and went around the corner from our camp about 75 yards or so to do some fishing. As I was tying a fly on the line, my son tells me he sees a bear. I look up and sure enough, directly on the other side of the river from us a grizzly drops down out of the trees. When I was younger, I worked in Alaska as a fishing guide and so had been around lots of bears before. My experience with them was to wave my arms and get the bears attention. Once the bear had a visual, they always stayed clear. So I did just that to make sure that the bear knew we were there. The bear saw us, dropped down in the river and started to drink. I felt better, but then right away the bear started swimming right toward us. So I grabbed my son and we headed up the bank into the trees. I found a fir tree that forked about 4 feet from the ground and got my son up in it and had him climb up about another 10 feet or so. I stayed on the ground to see if the bear was even going to come our way. Sure enough, I could hear him crashing thru the brush coming our way so I got up into the tree with my son. We watched the bear go right underneath us and head right for our camp. After about 15 minutes I climbed down out of the tree and stood for a few minutes getting my nerves settled. As I was watching, I told my son to come on down. As I was looking around my son started his decent from the tree. The worst part of the whole experience was a branch broke from underneath my son and he free fell about 10 feet and landed on his back. I was more scared at that point than at any point during the bear encounter. He had the wind knocked out of him real bad and I feared that maybe he had a collapsed lung as he struggled to get a breath. In just a few seconds though he got his breath and I got him settled down and gave him a big hug. I was so relieved that he was okay. We went back to inspect the damage at camp. Luckily the bear went right thru our camp turning over rocks grubbing on his way, but didn’t touch a thing in camp. It really pays to keep a clean camp in bear country.
As far as the scenery, it’s beautiful. We stayed along the river the whole trip. Where we started way down river there was a deep gorge at the beginning of the hike. Very nice. The only horses and pack animals we saw were down lower within a few miles of the trail head and were packing rafters out from the takeout as the lower gorge is a hazard for river runners. I remember that there were tons of wild chives that grew wild along the river.
I’m happy to report that my son still loves to go hiking and we’re heading to the Olympics this coming weekend.