For the most part last summer was a repeat of the summer before. We worked at the same park in Polson, Montana, as the summer of 2021. At the park, we enjoyed the same parties, and played lots of pickleball. We had a visit from Mike’s Sisters, and enjoyed beautiful bike rides in the countryside around Flathead Lake. One particular story keeps popping up and that is regarding the bears!
Mike and I rode our bikes to the city one morning to play pickleball. It was such a beautiful day we decided to continue on a standard loop that we enjoyed. It’s a 10 mile loop that goes through the center of Polson, then follows Skyline Drive to a breathtaking view of the Lake, before connecting back up the the bike path that runs along the highway and drops back down to the RV Park.
And then we saw the Bear
The last section, along the highway separates from the road for a bit. It becomes a particularly beautiful “forested” path section. In this section there was a rather large black bear just ambling along down the bike path (away from us). Mike (always the hunter) saw him long before I did and he started yelling for me to stop. Me (with my earbud pumping some podcast into my ears) did not hear him and blissfully kept riding along… Until I did see him, about 30 yards ahead. I stopped and called out for Mike to stop, which immediately and obediently did a moment later. (It wasn’t until he told the store the following day that I even found out he had already seen the bear… And here I thought I saved HIS life).
We watched the bear casually walking on down the path, until he slipped out of sight around the corner. Mike crept up another 10 yards to keep an eye on him. I was busy putting away my phone after I snapped a photo. All of a sudden, Mike is flying back up the path at top speed yelling, “PHYLLIS! TURN AROUND! TURN AROUND! RIDE AS FAST AS YOU CAN!“. I look past Mike and see the bear RUNNING back up the path toward us.
A New Experience – Chased by a Bear!
I turn around, jump on the bike… thankful, not for the first time, that I have an electric bike! Full- throttle and full pedal power I WAS riding as fast as I could! (Although I admit that old joke came to mind. I don’t need to outrun the bear, I only need to outrun Mike!). Mike (being chivalrous I’m sure), was riding just behind me. He kept glancing back to watch what the bear was doing. I couldn’t look back.. I had to just pay attention to where I was riding.
E-Bikes have a top speed of 25 miles per hour. Bears can run 35 miles per hour. I’m not sure of the wisdom of running from the black bear that without a doubt could have out run us, but we figure the reality is that the bear went round the corner and saw the Taco Bell and street traffic. He was not trying to get us, he was trying to get away from the Taco Bell! We didn’t really want to test that theory, and instead appreciated the free test of our adrenal glands!
Robyn and Jeremy (you remember them) were visiting and we had a great story to share. Mike’s 3 sisters and their husbands visited the next weekend and the story still had power. We learned in the meantime that the huckleberries were very sparce this year due to the wet season we had. Therefore the bear sighting were a lot more prevalent as they looked for abundant food to prepare for hibernation. Mike sister’s rented an AirBnB on the very tip of Findley Point, a peninsula that sticks way out into Flathead Lake. And this house was as far from the main road as you can get.. roughly 6.5 miles.
And more Bears
Flathead lake is also know for Cherries. Most of the orchards are on the East side of the lake, where Findley point is, and there are many orchards on the peninsula. As it turns out, we saw 8 other bears on Findley point over the course of the weekend!
Generally in groups of 3, generally in the orchards picking off any fruit the pickers had left behind. Usually we saw the Mom bear on the ground and two cubs climbing tree after tree. It was fascinating to watch, and outside of Alaska, Mike and I had not seen so many bears in as short of time. It was super fun.. at a distance.
At least these bears were not running at us! LOL. Stay safe out there!