The innkeeper consoled himself with the fact that the bears' behavior had seemed to become more consistent as July had turned to August. There were two of them now, regular nightly visitors, although tracks and other signs indicated that a sow and a pair of cubs were coming in late at night, long after the chalet was asleep. The two "regular" bears had learned to live with the powerful flashlights that were shone on them and with the monotone of awed conversation that came from the chalet 150 feet away, where a throng of guests watched in hushed excitement.
Walton and the chalet staff had not gone to the extreme of naming the bears, as others had done in the past. They were simply called No. 1 and No. 2. No. 1 was a big silvertip, a handsome animal with dark brown fur and great dignity. Sometimes the flashlights would catch No. 1 just right and its fur would take on a ghostly luminescence, and an admiring gasp would come from the onlookers. Naturalists guessed the big bear's weight at 500 pounds.
No. 2 was smaller, with a shoddy coat and long claws. Probably the bear was old, with worn teeth; certainly it was crotchety, and it soon was playing the nightly role of villain in the little backyard tableaux. No. 1 would arrive from the direction of the trail cabin just after dark and a few minutes later No. 2 would come up the same path and start the trouble. Sometimes the massive silvertip would see the grouchy bear coming and simply move into the brush to wait. Then No. 2 would stuff itself with garbage and leave by the same route.
The summer of 1967 was unnaturally hot, and visitors were coming from all over to sit on glacial ice and turn their noses into the Alpine winds. Headquarters rangers frequently found themselves called from their normal duties to battle the persistent fires that broke out in the dry brush. The Park Service personnel were stretched thinner and thinner, and only a handful of skilled men were left to cope with the record crowds. In such an atmosphere, no one had time to keep track of bears, either black or grizzly, much less to keep records on the increasing number of face-to-face meetings between grizzlies and man, particularly at the remote places called Granite Park, Kellys Camp and Trout Lake.
While no one was noticing, the contacts between man and bear were nearing a moment when something would have to give. The moment came on Saturday, Aug. 12.
The Kleins, Robert and Janet, had not been married long enough for major arguments, but now they were having a major disagreement. Janet had heard about the bears of Granite Park Chalet, and she announced that there was no force on earth, including her handsome 6'7" husband, that could get her to sleep out on the campground that night. For his part Robert still was not convinced that the presence of a few bears should change their plans for a night underneath the limitless vault of the sky. Janet stood her ground like a wolverine and finally announced that big brave Robert could sleep outside if he wanted to, but she was going to scrape together $12.50 and sleep in the chalet.
They were told that the young man in charge of the rooms was in the back burning trash, and the Kleins walked around the big log and stone building and introduced themselves to a sturdily built, bearded man who told them his name was Tom Walton. By now it was late afternoon, and Walton said that he was sorry but every bed was booked.
"Tell us frankly, what's the bear situation around here?" Klein asked. "That seems to be all anybody talks about."
Walton told them that two grizzlies had been coming in on a regular basis for two or three weeks now, that they came in from the trail that led down toward the trail cabin and the campground and returned by the same route.
"And they head down toward the campground?" Klein asked.