After lunch Mr. Christopherson took them on the hike back to the cabin, but on the way they watched for signs of caribou and moose. They had an exciting time and were almost to the edge of the park when they heard a fierce growl and froze in their tracks. They had stumbled on a mother bear and her cubs. It seems that they had wandered away from their area and were foraging for berries in the area that the kids & Mr. Christopherson were hiking through to get back to their cabin. Mr. Christopherson and the kids were on the hiking path, the cubs were on the south side of the path and the mother bear was on the north. She was viewing them as a threat to her cubs and was walking toward them and growling very loudly.
Mr. Christopherson quietly told the kids to all stand up straight and tall and begin backing away from the mother bear and move in the direction of the gate in the fence that would lead them to the cabin. All of the children started to do just what they were told. Except Jimmy Barski had his little camera going again and seemed more interested in getting the cubs on film than following Mr. Christopherson’s instructions. He just didn’t seem to hear anyone when the Susie & the other kids kept saying in a loud whisper “Jimmy! Stop filming and come with us!” He just kept moving toward the cubs with his eye on the camera.
The mother bear saw Jimmy and began moving toward him, Mr. Christopherson saw that and got in between them and kept backing up toward Jimmy and trying to get his attention. “Barski! Stop!”, he said loudly and firmly. Jimmy didn’t notice. “Barski! Stop!”, he repeated louder and more firmly. He needed to get Jimmy’s attention without scaring the cubs or making the mother bear more angry. Johnny could see what was happening and began to move in Jimmy’s direction. Both Susie and Andrea saw that and began to move with him. If they could get to Jimmy and pull him away from the cubs, maybe the mother bear would leave them alone.
Just as Johnny, Susie and Andrea were getting close to Jimmy, Mr. Christopherson glanced at them & saw what they were trying to do and said to them in a loud whisper “get him out of here!”. Johnny was finally within reach of Jimmy and grabbed his backpack. Jimmy hollered “what are you doing?”. The cubs got frightened by Jimmy’s yelling and scattered into the woods. The mother bear had had enough of this, stood up on her back legs and went for Jimmy who was now being dragged backward by Johnny, Susie & Andrea. Mr. Christopherson saw that and again got between Jimmy and the bear in an effort to keep him or any of the kids from getting attacked by the bear.
“Run…GO TO THE CABIN!!” he shouted and all of the kids, including the loudly protesting Jimmy (who was still being dragged by our friends) ran as fast as they could toward the fence at the edge of the park. Susie looked back at Mr. Christopherson and could see the bear lunging toward him. Mr. Christopherson had his knife out and was still yelling for the kids to run as fast as they could.
All the children ran as fast as they could, Susie kept turning to look at Mr. Christopherson and the bear as long as she could. Eventually, the trail wound its way through the woods to the gate in the fence and she could no longer see them. Johnny was still holding onto Jimmy and Andrea was leading the rest of the kids to the cabin. Once they were all inside, Susie found the phone and called 911. The 911 operator called the county sheriff’s office and the park office. The sheriff’s office sent out two cars and an animal control officer to the cabin because that was the quickest way to get to that area of the park.
While all of this was going on, Mr. Christopherson was quickly moving around like a boxer trying to avoid the bear. But, the bear was steadily getting closer and closer because it could walk forward faster than Mr. Christopherson could back up over the uneven ground. He kept tripping over branches and rocks on the ground.
Finally the bear was almost close enough to take a swipe at him when he heard a muffled “POP” and a thud followed by another muffled “POP” and another thud. He couldn’t see where that strange noise was coming from but it seemed to come from behind the bear. Besides, he had more pressing things to think about. Then he tripped over another branch and the bear began to lean toward him and then the bear seemed to lunge for him. All Mr. Christopherson could do was to try to roll away from the bear, so he quickly rolled over three times to his right and the bear landed flat on her face and seemed to try to get back up again only to fall flat once again.
Mr. Christopherson got up to his feet and stared at the bear and wondered what had happened when he heard a voice say, “Look’s like we got here just in time!” It was one of the park veterinarians named Lucy Shaw. “We have been looking all over for Abigail and her cubs. She wanders off once in awhile, so we have a GPS locater attached to her. Normally she comes back willingly but with the cubs she sometimes gets a little testy.” “Wow! Am I glad you were tracking her! I just wish you had gotten here a little sooner. I thought that I was a goner. I just barely got the kids out of here & got her to go for me instead of them.” “Mr. Christopherson, we are very sorry that this happened. We will get her and the cubs into a contained area so this won’t happen again. We may have to release her and her cubs back into the wild because of this. We can’t have anyone in any danger at all. It’s not good for this park to have that happen.”