A family exploring Glacier National Park in September helped save the life of a French tourist who had found himself face-to-face with a grizzly bear.
The family were hiking on a woodland trail when they came across the young Frenchman, who had stumbled across the animal. The man had no bear spray, so the family helped him slowly move back, giving the bear plenty of space and avoiding a confrontation. One member of the group also recorded the encounter, which you can watch below.
"The young man was shaken and very thankful that we came along," the mother of the family told YouTube channel Viralhog. "We learned that he was visiting from France and I asked him if he had bear spray and he said he had left it in the car. We then offered to let him finish the rest of the hike with us, which he did."
Approaching within 100 yards (91 meters) of bears and wolves is illegal at Glacier National Park, but unplanned encounters can happen on narrow trails when visibility is limited.
"Be particularly careful by streams, against the wind, or in dense vegetation," says the National Park Service (NPS). "A blind corner or a rise in the trail also requires special attention. Look for scat and tracks. Bears spend a lot of time eating, so be extra alert when hiking in obvious feeding areas like berry patches, cow parsnip thickets, or fields of glacier lilies."
The NPS advises hiking in groups and making noise along the way to alert bears to your presence, as they will usually move if they know people are approaching. There are no reported attacks on groups of four or more people at Glacier. If you are alone, you can join a Ranger-led hike for safety.
Visitors are also advices to carry bear spray, and make sure they know how to use it (see our guide to carrying and using bear spray for more details).
"In hindsight, we have considered if we should have deployed our bear spray but we were concerned that we might have enraged the bear or accidentally sprayed the young man causing him to stumble or move rapidly, which in turn would have very likely ended in tragedy," said the mother.
"It was a very scary situation but one that we hope will also be used to educate others on the importance of hiking in groups, making noise, and carrying bear spray anytime you are in bear country."
For more advice on what to do in a bear encounter, and how to deescalate the situation, see our guide what to do if you meet a bear.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.