As I watched a sow grizzly and her two cubs this evening in Grand Teton National Park I couldn’t help but think of the family who lost a loved one to a grizzly encounter just yesterday, and only 50 miles north of here. My heart goes to the entire family.

I am also reminded this evening how truly powerful these animals are. I was well over 100 yards away from the grizzly yet its strength and physical awesomeness was clear as day. I can’t imagine being any closer, especially with cubs around. It is a creature who truly puts the strength of humans in perspective.

Yet it is the start of the summer craziness here in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and people are everywhere. They are all looking to see a grizzly. Most simply stay in their cars however for the ones that wonder onto the trails, I am amazed at what little awareness most visitors have about potential bear encounters.

When I first arrived in the area, I did not hesitate to purchase a can of bear spray. Yet during a ranger-led hike at Storm Point Trail, a known bear activity area, I was the only one with bear spray (apart from the ranger) out of a group of about 30 people.

I know little details about this recent incident with the grizzly. But it important to remember, encounters can and do happen, so do yourself and the bears a favor and always carry bear spray and make A LOT of noise in bear country.

And by the way, be sure to donate your bear spray to the local National Park Service rangers before you leave – they really appreciate it!