Cole was a Renaissance man in the best sense of the word: outdoorsman, musician, writer and photographer. He was a regular presence in Bozeman, Montana, where he made his home for the last 12 years; it was his base for regular forays to Yellowstone National Park.
It was in Yellowstone where he suffered a second bear mauling in 2007, one that left him disfigured. He was hiking in the backcountry when he accidentally stepped on a mother grizzly with a cub nearby. The attack was so quick that he was unable to use the pepper spray attached to his belt; the griz tore out his left eye and badly disfigured his face. Months of reconstructive surgery was the result.
As was a book: “Blindsided: Surviving a Grizzly Attack and Still Loving the Great Bear” (St. Martin’s Press; $25.99). The book just came out and Cole was in the process of promoting it in the area.
He was accused by some as being too reckless around grizzlies: he was ticketed by Yellowstone National Park officials in 2004 for being within 100 yards of grizzlies in violation of Park regulations. He fought the charge and won — his defense was that the bears came to him and not vice versa — leading to changes in Park regulations.
Photo by Bob Strand, courtesy of Macmillan.