It’s fairly easy to deal with bears. They don’t hide under your lawn chair and they’re big (especially Grizzlies) so most of the time you see them coming. You blow your bear whistle, or your air siren, or you bang your pots and pans together and you can be mostly sure that they will lumber away.
Some years ago I ran a ten-mile leg of the Jasper /Banff relay race through the Rocky Mountains at 3 am in the in the morning. There were bears in the ditch on the side of the road. I didn’t see them that time, because it was dark, but I knew they were there. There is nothing that will help you shave minutes off your time like bears in the dark.
Hiking in Banff or Waterton National Park is a blast. I sure miss it.
This is one of my favorite hiking photos… skinny dipping in a glacial fed mountain lake at the top of Smuts Pass. (See the snow?)
One of the funnest things about hiking in the Rockies is glaciating. Glaciating is when you slide down the side of the mountain on a glacier in your hiking boots.
(This is my husband. National Geographic documentaries… the photographer does it too and carries the camera equipment at the same time…)
The first time I did this I was wearing sneakers, that was a little more scary because you don’t get the ankle support you should have and you feel every little rock on the bottom of your feet. It also increases the fear factor if you are watching an avalanche occurring on the mountain across the valley on your way down.
Probably the coolest thing I ever did was hike the West Coast Trail. The West Coast Trail is a fifty mile back packing trail on the west side of Vancouver Island. It’s roughly a week-long survival trek through rain forest,
climbing through knee reaching mud and over waste high roots in old growth rainforest,
going up and down mile high cliffs on slightly rotting step ladders,
(this is an example of one ladder, most often there is a series of five or six or ten or twenty of these ladders in a row… it’s possible to spend two days just climbing ladders…)
crossing ravines on slippery logs,
pulling yourself and others across deep chasms and inlets in little suspension cable cars,
skirting deathly surge channels on itty bitty ledges, (This photo was taken on the other side. I think I’d never been so scared in my life.)
and the bonus, is that you do it with 50-60 pounds of extra weight on your back!
One day I had an encounter with a cougar. Now THAT was scary. You DON’T see cougars because they hide really well in the trees. You can hear them though… snarling at you as you run away.
A few years ago I was proud to earn a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. (Sorry, not sure where that photo is.) I love to beat the shit out of a punching bag, and sparring with a partner is not only great exercise, it’s loads of fun! Thank goodness I’ve never had to use those skills in a REAL fight. That would certainly be scary, but it’s a little bit reassuring to know that if I was ever attacked in the Wal Mart parking lot, that I might be an inconvenient enough victim that said “bad guy” might reconsider his actions.
After having done all of these scary / possibly crazy things in my younger days, I have to admit there are two things that really give me the creeps. One is stepping on squishy mud at the bottom of a lake. Who knows what icky, yucky things might be lurking in that muck? The other is Water Moccasin snakes. Unlike bears, they are sneaky and hide in places, like maybe that yucky mud in the lake. Water Moccasins are not your usual “ignore it and they will ignore you” type of snake. They are highly aggressive, they will chase you down the pathway until they get you. They might even curl up at the bottom of the slide in your swimming pool during a drought year. That’s what happened to my friend’s daughter before she realized it was there and couldn’t stop her descent down the slippery slide. She eventually stopped struggling and resigned herself to being bitten, which she was and nearly lost her leg.
Nope, I don’t much like snakes, then again, neither does Indiana Jones… but I’ll bet HE was never called “girly”.
- Up on the Ridge – Banff, Canada (travelpod.com)
- Lessons from the Appalachian Trail: Bears? Snakes? What’s the greatest risk? (writer77.wordpress.com)
- Geek Art: Indiana Jones – Why’d it have to be Snakes? (geektyrant.com)