WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Trail ride wrangler Erin Bolster and her famous steed, Tonk, were greeting fans at the Western Montana Fair in Missoula last week to celebrate the 1st anniversary of their heroic encounter with a grizzly bear.
Bolster and Tonk rode into the national spotlight after repeatedly charging a grizzly that had burst into a trail ride Bolster was leading near Glacier National Park. As the bear chased a horse carrying a terrified 8-year-old boy through the timber, Bolster was able to get Tonk to overcome fleeing instincts and charge the grizzly into submission.
My story about the encounter last summer swept across the nation and landed Bolster — Tonk, too! — in New York for Late Night with David Letterman.
Bolster said she's met a lot of people and had many career opportunities because of the favorable response to the fame she and Tonk have garnered.
This summer, however, she's been living mostly in a tent near the Flathead National Forest, leading trail rides for the flood of people young and old who've booked trips in anticipation of touching the horse flesh of a hero.