K2inCanada's Blog

October 13, 2017

Bear encounters

Filed under: Animals, Bears, Canada — K2 in Canada @ 6:41 AM

This story takes place a couple weekends ago. Naturally, after seeing a bear up at Cypress on my birthday I had to go back the next weekend. A beautiful sunny day. I didn’t really expect to see the bear. Near the top I hung out with 3 grouse that tried to “hide” in the fall colours right off the trail. Pretty cool.

 

And when I got down to the meadows where birthday bear was last weekend, I counted myself very lucky to actually see him again. At least I think it was the same bear in pretty much the same spot as the birthday bear! This time I had a bit better view of him too. He was munching away on berries probably not even noticing me standing 100m away watching him. Unfortunately, it did not take long until more hikers were coming down the trail behind me, talking. The bear did not care. I pointed the bear out to the group of 3 guys but instead of peacefully continue on their way, they started to make a lot of noise while passing me. Clapping their hands, talking even louder. Yeah, I know, folklore says you should make noise in bear country. Personally I hate bear bells. I rather keep my eyes and ears open. And this bear was far off the trail, not paying too much attention to his surrounding other than the blueberries in front of him, putting on fat for the winter. The loud noise though got his attention pretty quick and he bolted into the bush. Idiots, I thought. Idiot, they probably thought for me watching the bear silently. Off they disappear down the trail ahead of me. Shortly after I hear the guys yelling “watch out, there is another bear right here” and they made even more noise and, stupid, started running. I carefully continued down the trail expecting that that other bear would have left because of the noise as well. But not so. I came face to face with a quite agitated looking mama bear and her young cub not wanting to surrender their nice blueberry patch whatsoever. And that patch was right along the trail – 20m distance between us. I stopped to analyze the situation in plain view. The cub was up the tree when I first saw them and mama was looking back and forth between me and the 3 noisy guys I could no longer see. Great I thought. Not only did they scare away the friendly bear, no they left me with a quite pissed off mama bear. The cub climbed down the tree while I tried to figure out what to do. I expected them to walk off into the bush. But then mama bear took a charge back at the tree, huffing, in the direction off where the 3 guys disappeared. The little guy didn’t know what to do other than staying close to mom and go up that tree again. It was a bit scary for a moment but neither bear showed aggression towards me. I calmly talked to them. Mama bear was watching me and obviously listening to me telling her no good would come out of her chasing a hiker up here. She finally relaxed and after a few more seconds relented the area and walked off into the bush. Her cub close behind. It took a couple minute for my heart rate to come down again.

 

I do see black bears on my hikes and walks quite frequently but this was definitely the closest encounter I have had to date. Most other times the bears take off as soon as they hear, see or smell me. This was different. My read on this, the bear became agitated because of the extensive noise and the running of those 3 guys ahead of me. If they would have just walked by her, she probably would have stayed calm and continued eating. If I wouldn’t have alerted them to the first bear, they might have walked right by the 2nd without noticing it. But that’s all speculation off course. Female bears with cubs can be quite protective and I usually do not hang around to watch them this close. I guess I could have backed off rather than stand my ground but my gut feel told me to stay put. I am glad this turned out the way it did. I neither want to endanger myself or the bears!

You can judge me all you want but I will continue sharing nature with all the wildlife there is. I will stick to my philosophy to watch my surrounding, observe but not threaten any animals I see. I get just as excited about seeing deer or grouse or chipmunks as I do about seeing a bear or bobcat. I was back doing the same hike again the next weekend. Mostly sunny after a rainy Saturday and even busier with people but I again got to see a bear. I felt extremely lucky. This time I think it was a different bear, higher up at the top of the mountain. He saw me coming from a long way off and meandered slowly into the trees, stopping here and there to nibble on a few more blueberries along the way. None of us felt threatened – both of us continued on with what we love. Me enjoying a beautiful fall hike – the colours are just short of amazing and no pictures do them justice. Him eating to prepare for winter.

Most bear encounters end like mine. You just very rarely hear about those – not sensational enough I guess. Here is another story that ended well for all: https://blog.thedyrt.com/adventure/survive-a-grizzly-bear/

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October 8, 2016

September Hiking = Bear Watching

Filed under: Animals, Bears, Canada, Hike — K2 in Canada @ 10:40 PM

As the days are getting shorter so do my hikes and I stay in the local mountains. I hike the top while Jeff roller skis up the road. But that does not mean I am on my own. There are quite a few more people around obviously but I was also lucky to see bears on 2 out of my 3 hikes on Cypress last month. They come out of the bush to fatten up on the nice grass growing on the ski slopes.

First encounter was on Sep 12. A beautiful sunny day and I hiked up Mount Strachan, a much less busy trail compared to the Howe Sound Crest Trail, coming down the ski run to Eagle Chair lift. Two girls coming up warned me about the 2 bears they saw hiking up. One just around the corner. So I slowly continued on hoping it was still there. And I was lucky. A young bear judging by the size. Not sure why he had picked that spot. There seemed to be more rock than grass on that slope but he was happily munching away. I watched him till he reach the other side of the slope when he finally saw me. Didn’t seem to scared as he slowly wandered off into the bush. Unfortunately I did not see bear number 2 when I continued hiking down even though I payed extra attention. By the way, the views from Mt Strachan are really nice and it’s only an hour up, if that.

Second encounter happened on Sep 18 which was even more special to me. I hardly got the hike started, walking up the ski run this time when I spotted the bear right at the bottom of the bunny hill. Close to where all the people walk by – not many spotting the bear. This bear was bigger and I think a female. She looked very healthy. Ready for a winter of sleeping and giving birth to another generation of Cypress bears. I was wondering if she could have been the mom of the two cubs I saw on Cypress last year. Anyhow, she did not seem concern about the people and I was happy to see that everyone who spotted her stayed on the trail rather than trying to get closer. She was just beautiful. I almost did not do my hike but eventually I decided to leave her alone and get a bit of exercise. Only had time for a”quick” up and down the ski run as Jeff would be up meeting me at the car in an hour. Well I did take a detour going up towards Hollyburn for a bit. On the way down I ran into paddling buddy Sean and his wife and we walked down together. I didn’t expect the bear to still be there but she was. Sean and his wife were a bit more anxious about it and stayed behind me while watching  for a bit. Sean knows I ran slower than him :-). Now the sun was out in full force as well and I could not take my eyes off her. Needless to say Jeff had been waiting for a while. But when I told him there was a bear right at the bottom, we both went back and watch her for some more time. A very special day!!!

The last hike in September, Sep 24, we didn’t see a bear. Maybe because Jeff was actually hiking with me. We took the Baden Powell trail east until it joined the Hollyburn Mtn trail and followed it to the top. It was a overcast cloudy day and no views from the top. We crossed the top and were lucky to find the trail that connected with Mount Strachan and the ski runs. It was pretty steep down but in pretty good conditions. Bushy in sections which meant we were soak from wet bushes rubbing against our pants. Could be a nice round trip on a sunny day. Coming down the ski run being wet and no bear sightings made it a bit less fun :-).

And if you still don’t have enough of looking at bear pictures, here is a video of the two encounters above as well as one I took in the spring of Blondie (one of many posts I still have to do on our spring fishing adventures this year):

 

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