Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First Black Bear Encounter

This past weekend we spent the Saturday celebrating the 1st of May with our first "under-the-stars" fire. The sun had been shining all morning and as day stretched into evening, we walked up to a clearing in the forest near our house that offers great views of the coastal mountains (and an abundance of huge mosquitoes):

The next morning, the clear sky of the previous evening was nowhere to be seen - the downside of mountain living. Nevertheless, we stubbornly decided to "make the most of the day" and to go hiking. The weather was suggesting a book, hot chocolate, relaxing movie, afternoon nap...but we pushed on through the icy wind, the steep gradient of the almost uphill-only trail, the rain and fog... we were determined not to let a weekend go to waste:

When we reached the snow and had sufficiently wet our shoes and socks, we decided that this was the WORST hike EVER and that now would be a good time to turn around and walk the 10km downhill:

Halfway down though, our fortune changed. Down the trail we spotted a Black Bear scratching around and foraging for roots to eat. We had no idea what to do. We kept on whispering furtively to each other "Is it the Grizzly bear or the Black bear that is shy? No...I think it is the Black Bear...Are we meant to make noise or to walk away slowly? Or is that the technique with the Grizzly?" Our whispering stopped when the bear spotted us, perked it's ears and started ambling up the hill towards us. Then, all discussion ceased. Instinct took over and we backed away and hid in the scrub on the side of the road, both embarrassed not to face the cuddly looking animal a la Steve Irwin, but also relived to have some foliage between us and it's huge claws.

He soon walked off into the forest, and after another couple of minutes we decided to throw caution to the wind and that we were 95% sure that Black Bears were indeed shy and that if we made some noise it would be scared off. Apparently it worked!

Further down the trail our keen new bear instincts spotted the tell-tale sign that "the bear has was's still fresh..." We looked at each other in agreement - this had been the BEST hike EVER!