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Author Archive: "Claire Cameron"

Hiking Alone in Grizzly Bear Country

I was hiking a five-day loop — alone — in the Rocky Mountains when I rounded the switchback and saw a large body on the trail ahead. It had brown fur with a cinnamon tinge that was draped across dense, humped back muscle. A broad head lifted and I could see the dish-shaped muzzle was catching my scent. I knew bears. This was a grizzly. For the first time during my hike, I wasn't alone.

A young woman hiking alone in the mountains sounds dangerous. In the pre–cell phone era maybe it was, but I'll stop short of calling it foolish. By that time in the mid-1990s, I was a competent rock climber and versed in mountain travel. I'd decided to strike out on my own. Maybe I thought that the trip might prove my newfound independence, but trying to press logic on my 21-year-old self was likely impossible. As I remember, the idea popped into my head. And then, just as suddenly, I hoisted on my backpack, tied a bandana over my braid, and set off for higher altitudes.

The bear stood on the trail next to a ...

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