We decided to start bushwhacking up the eastern side of the chute just inside the trees as the vegetation was not as thick, it was not as steep, and we were out of the direct morning sun. We continued up this side for several hundred feet until the terrain became markedly steeper then we dropped down into the chute.
Ridge and Summit Views
Elevation at Trout Lake trail head: 3200'
Elevation at Stanton summit: 7750'
Elevation gain: 4550'
On our second attempt of Stanton in mid-July our party of three was hiking up the Trout Lake trail. Two of us carry bear spray and we make loud noises at regular intervals along the trail as we hike. Part of the Trout Lake Trail parallels the drainage on the south side of the mountain for a ways. There is a large embankment that separates the trail from the creek and the foliage is thick in this area. As we hiked on this part of the trail I heard loud crashing and snapping of large saplings to my left on the embankment. A grizzly topped the embankment and kept coming down toward the trail and would've intersected it about 20 yards ahead of us. Realizing that he had not heard our loud clapping due to the embankment and the sound of the water, I yelled, "Bear!" and whipped out my bear spray and flipped off the safety, instructing Tater to do the same. The bear stopped in his tracks but his head was behind a couple of trees so I don't think he saw us. It wasn't huge...maybe 200 or 250 pounds...probably a sub-adult grizzly. I'm convinced it was a grizzly due to the coloration being identical to that of the mounted grizzly located in the Fish, Wildlife & Parks office on Meridian Street in Kalispell.
Anyway, we decided to calmly but firmly tell it to leave the area. All three of us did this and it slowly turned around and backtracked up the embankment but then turned and walked down the top of the embankment until even with us and then stopped and looked at us. It studied us momentarily and then slowly ambled away.
What a priviledge to see such a fantastic animal that close! Unfortunately, I was very quick on the draw with the bear spray but never got my camera out of my pocket. As I stood there I wondered how it would react to the snap of a shutter or a flash and decided not to find out.
We had also seen fresh bear scat on our previous attempt of Stanton very near this same area.
Other SP members have had experiences in this area. See the Mt. Vaught page. I would also suggest reading the book Night of the Grizzlies by Jack Olsen. He chronicles the events leading up to the deadly maulings of two different campers by two different grizzlies in Glacier National Park on the same night in 1967. One of those attacks occurred at Trout Lake. Read this chilling excerpt.
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