(Disclaimer--there are no marmots associated with this post, but some griz instead; I just want to say howdy to Travis, and, I guess, tell him a GNP story)
Travis, where've you been? I actually thought about you when I was up there last month. I spent a lot of wasted time in GNP, waiting for the snow to melt so I could do a couple of easy 'Y' hikes to a few stellar campsites I'd never stayed in--Upper Two Medicine, No Name Lake, and Morningstar. There was 3-4' of snow at each of those, so I blew it off and headed up to drive Lake Louise to Jasper, buying time for GNP's snow to melt.
But before I drove up there, I decided to do a day hike to Iceberg Lake, fairway of the bears. I was hiking alone about a mile from the still-frozen lake, loudly singing Jimmy Buffet songs, as I entered a curved corridor of 8' tall timberline brush. That's when I met met the bear. It looked rather confused as to what it should do. I wasn't sure if it was male or female, but I kind of knew what to do. I did the "Hi, bear, love you lots, gotta go" thing, backed up quickly, maybe 200', then scooted uphill till I hit a vertical snowfield that pinned me maybe 50' above the trail. The bear, all 450# of it, finally emerged from that brushy corridor and non-chalantly cruised down the trail I had been hiking up.
Big mama heading down
About the time I figured I was good to slip in behind the bear, it being 100 yards down the trail, I took one step, and here came her three puppies that were lagging far behind her. Everything was OK until one of them decided to be curious and come up to see what I was all about.
I was about to be dead meat
Mom started to become interested, keeping direct eye contact with me, as was the baby, but no one was more into it than I was. I decided to start shouting loudly to the baby, "Wait! Stop! I hate you, your mama loves you! I don't! Go away! Go back to your mama! Boogie, boogie, boogie!" I had my eyes on mom the whole time, and she had hers on mine. Finally she heaved a moderate grunt, and her baby ran back to the fold. Whew, my apparent painful death averted.
And off they went down the trail
It turned out to be the most beautiful nature experience of my life, after it was over. A big, beautiful cinnamon mama griz with her three gangly 6-month old cubs, sharing the trail with me in near-perfect harmony.
The frozen lake was an anticlimax, other than having lunch below the splendid Ptarmigan Wall. Then there were the rangers, who wanted to know all of the details of my event, and the other hikers' questions ("What was it like?"). I was glad to get back to Many Glacier, give the BC rangers my report, and pop a couple of beers on the rocky hill between the Many Glacier Hotel and its parking lot. Staring at those 3 fine valleys--Grinell, Swiftcurrent, and Iceberg/Ptarmigan, I was reminded of how that might be the most magnificent piece of turf on the planet. Lots of griz, for sure, but some of them are pretty damned peaceful.
Glad to know that you are still with us, Travis.