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Day three takes me to Twin Cabin Trail in Big Sky. The only person in the parking lot is a leather-covered dude on horseback. He rides up to me and in a gravelly voice says, "You know there's bear up there?" "Yes sir," I say. "I have a bear bell." He glares at me while I stand there in cycling shorts, holding my bell. I might as well have been wearing a leotard.
I take off, but the horseman's warning has spooked me. Fifteen minutes up the trail, I realize that I've left my pack, with flat tire kit and pepper spray inside, hanging from the roof rack of the van. I consider going ahead without it but instead wheel around and sprint back to get it. My ride starts and then starts again.
The terrain is mostly single-track in open meadows with great vistas. Far ahead, I spot a large herd of elk. At the top of each rise, I expect to close the gap but they sense my presence and keep moving away. Seeing the elk has calmed me and I start to enjoy the ride. Heading up, up, up, I notice that my bike is a little out of sorts. Yesterday's crash bent my right brake lever and put a couple of small dents in the aluminum frame. Bummer.
Shaded by loosely placed trees, I approach the summit. It's thick with brush. Getting edgy again, I begin talking to myself out loud. I'm creating as much noise as a solo rider can make. As I urge my metallic steed over a small rise, I see three large animals moving quickly across my path 150 yards out. When the largest one stops and rises up on its rear haunch, I suddenly realize the full impact of the moment. It's a sow grizzly bear with two cubs in tow. In an instant, I unclip my pedals and jump off the bike while reaching for my spray. I think about grabbing the camera in my pack but my gut tells me to pay close attention to these animals. With a loud snort, the sow leads the cubs away-but not before raising up and snorting at me a second time.
It's one of those riveting moments where you don‘t know what to do except watch. At the same time, I'm considering my exit strategy. The bears quickly leave my sight but this comes as little comfort. I'm so rattled from the encounter that I can't continue. I wheel around and head back in a daze, arriving in the parking lot numb, breathing a huge sigh of relief.
I've just discovered what many people already know about this place. It is so rewarding to ride here. There's a prize at almost every turn: white-capped mountain peaks, alpine lakes, glowing wildflowers, and the huge thrill of encountering wildlife. You get a sense of being in the wilderness even when you're close to the road. It's a different world here.
TOP PICKS are absolutely the best real estate deals in Bozeman and Gallatin County. TOP PICKS are selected from the entire pool of local REALTOR listings. Our goal is to remain impartial and present you with the very best bargains. TOP PICKS emphasize value but we factor in other important variables such as property condition, location and amenities. If you don't think these are the best bargains in their class, we'd like to hear your comments. If you have a better deal, we'd like to hear about yours.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.