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Bear, elk and beaver tales, oh myHowdy Beaver


Bear, elk and beaver tales, oh my

Howdy Beaver

While we were winging our way from East Glacier to Waterton and the Prince of Wales Hotel in one of Glacier National Park's big red buses, a friend was having an experience of his own right out in the beautiful Bear Paws.

The friend was winging his way to the Dumpster on Beaver Creek when he met up with a large beaver walking down the highway also on his way to the Dumpster. The fellow stopped and tried to get the beaver to turn off the road and head to water, but the beaver was not to be persuaded. He stuck to his guns and proceeded down the road, sort of growling when the man got too close.

The fellow gave up and went back to his chore of dumping garbage. After he finished with his chores, he decided to see where the beaver went. Mr. Beaver was still heading down the road. This fellow followed him almost to Bear Paw Lake.

The beaver turned off the highway and headed down into the creek where it runs into the dam. That beaver had learned that the highway is a much easier way to travel than through the brush. Hope he knows about cars passing and kids always on the lookout for a new pet.

Meanwhile in Glacier, we were learning how to drive a red bus. These buses are just awesome. Bought from the White Manufacturing Company in 1936 and 1937, they had literally fallen apart a couple of years ago. The hotel sold them for a song to the Glacier Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization that turned them over to the Ford Motor Company.

Ford completely remade them. They have 2002 frames, transmissions and engines. Then they put the old bodies back on them and they are ready to run for the 2002 season. They hold up to 16 people and have canvas tops that come off on nice days. We had never ever ridden in a red bus, so were thrilled to be on the way to Two Medicine, Wild Goose Island and Jackson Glacier, Many Glacier, and the Prince of Wales hotel in Waterton all on the same day.

It was glorious driving over Looking Glass Hill north of Two Medicine in one of those marvelous buses. But we have to tell you that when we saw the first balsam root and the Plains stretching out in front of us to the Sweet Grass Hills, we got lonesome for Havre and the beautiful Bear Paws.

We write in this column each year about the showy, yellow, arrow-leaf balsam root that is blooming right now in the beautiful Bear Paws. However, we gained a new twist on it during this tour. Guides told us that the hungry grizzly bears love to find stands of balsam root and eat the whole plant, including the long punk-like root. Good thing there are no grizzlies in the Bear Paws. They would have a meandering feast as most mountain sides hold stunning displays of balsam root this time of year.

It was a glorious day, but we did see a side of nature we did not like. It gives us our first bear story of the season.

We were told that at Many Glacier in the Windy Flats area the night before we were there, a grizzly bear killed a calf elk right in front of its mother. As the bear ate the young elk, the mother stood by crying. The next day when we passed the Windy Flats area, there was the mother elk, still looking for her calf. Nature can be so wonderfully awesome, but it can be ever so sad, too. The sight of that mama elk looking for her young calf will stay with us for many a moon.

Glacier is glorious this year. So are the beautiful Bear Paws. Don't miss either one.


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