In August 2005, father-daughter hikers Johan and Jenna Otter faced down any Glacier hiker’s worst fear—a charging mother grizzly defending her cubs. Johan attempted to distract the grizzly, potentially saving her life, but both incurred serious physical injuries. They described the ordeal in their own words in “Attacked!”, from BACKPACKER’s 2006 Survival issue.
But the mental scars would prove even more lasting. As part of moving on, Jenna and Johan returned to Glacier National Park to revisit the scene of their horrific mauling two years later. The LA Times went with them.
Jenna felt slightly disoriented: She could have been back home looking at her computer, where she and her father had downloaded the photographs from the park service’s report of the incident. She couldn’t believe that she was here again.
“I have to keep reminding myself that this actually happened,” she said.
“And how amazing that, if it had to happen, it happened in the most beautiful place in the world,” (friend and rescuer) Heidi (Reindl) said.
Johan survived major lacerations, a torn-off scalp, and skull fractures to continue his career as a successful physical therapist and continue to compete in marathons. Jenna recovered from facial lacerations and a broken back to return to dancing at the University of California-Irvine, where she goes to college.
Don’t miss their incredible and inspiring survival story (but be prepared for some graphic moments).
Could you have survived a similar attack? What would you have done? Tell us in the comments section below.