So I've lived in north west Montana for about a year and one week exactly, and I've done quite a bit of hiking and stuff throughout that time. Last night it was about 8:30 in the evening, and I was walking along this short trail (couple hundred yards) to this gorge where a river is funneled into a real narrow spot and there are huge rock cliffs on each side. It was late enough that it was starting to get kind of dark and the forest is pretty dense right there. As I'm walking down this trail, to my left something big comes crashing through the woods towards me. I started clapping my hands and shouting and it stopped. I listened for a second and heard an exhale sound like "PHFFFF" and then a few more large foot steps. I jumped up and down and waved my arms and shouted some more, and it ran away in the other direction. That was the end of my hike and I headed back to my jeep pretty quickly.
That spot is a good place to see moose, so it may have been a moose that charged me. But I think it was probably a bear, I couldn't see because the woods were thick and the sun was going down. I'm guessing that since it was so easy to get it to run off, it was probably just a lone bear and not a momma with a baby or two. If it was a momma chances are she would have mauled me and left me in a bloody pulp. So what I think happened is that I was being too quiet on the trail and it didn't realize I was there until I was really close. That was probably about the most excitement I've had in a while, it was a huge adrenaline rush knowing that I was just charged by a big animal and lived to tell about it. Now I know why lots of guys around here skip the bear spray (which I wasn't carrying with me, I will now!) and go with hand guns instead.