Travel: Your holiday disaster

When Frank Woods caught sight of his first bear in the wild, he was enchanted. The second encounter proved a little more hairy

WE WERE in Yellowstone Park in April with melting snow, cold nights and bears slowly emerging from hibernation. The first bear encounter was charming. Driving from our campsite to view the spectacular Yellowstone River gorge we rounded a bend to meet a mother and three cubs looking as if they'd just wiped the sleep from their eyes; as bemused to see us as we were delighted by them.

Our next encounter was less pleasant. Walking the trail back from the river gorge we saw that our car, the only vehicle in a parking area 200 metres ahead down a steep wooded hill, had acquired an admirer and was being circled and sniffed by a large black bear. Thrill faded quickly into anxiety as the bear bounced hard on the roof then scratched and thumped at the windscreen. We had followed the advice of not keeping food in the tent at night and had left all our provisions in the car. This bear was hungry.

The trail branched immediately left through thick forest to connect with the highway less than a kilometre north. We set out that way to wait for a passing car. However when a clearing in the trees allowed a look back we discovered that the bear was nowhere to be seen. We didn't know what lay ahead, but behind was a vantage point with a chance of seeing what was happening. We weren't alone in thinking that. As we retraced our steps and turned the last bend back to where we had first spotted the bear on the car, there he was, 20 metres ahead, his back to us, bent over, sniffing intently at where we had so recently been standing. There was a long moment of subliminal, silent communication, a combination of mime and telepathy, as we both turned around. Fighting the urge to run, we made for the highway as quietly as possible amid fearful backward glances and whispered assessments of the possibilities of tree climbing or bolting in separate directions if the bear appeared.

When a car arrived I could have kissed everyone in it although it might not have been appreciated by the rangy middle-aged Texan in a Stetson, his wife or their three tall sons. They scorned our request for a lift to our car. "We'all know how to handle them bears," the father assured everyone as two of the sons joined him to provide our escort and walk us back to the parking area. He insisted on taking a position closest to where we had last seen the bear as we all walked down the highway in a line, their car following behind. The bear broke cover on the hillside and charged. "G'woan, shoo bear," shouted the father, waving and flapping at it. The effect was instantaneous. It doubled its speed towards us. The Texans broke ranks, piled into their car, and departed in a cloud of rubber.

The wild race for our car ended in a dead heat. The bear collided with the driver's side as I successfully fumbled a key into the passenger door lock and my companion bundled herself through and into the driving seat. I closed the door behind us as the bear climbed onto the bonnet, pawing at the windscreen. We all did well in the end. She managed to drive the car away, I managed to take a fuzzy picture and the bear managed to roll off into the ditch instead of smashing through the windscreen and biting our heads off.

Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing