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Friday, October 3, 2008

Meeting up with bears seemed so theoretical...until they crossed our hiking path!

While we were still in Waterton National Park, we hiked in Red Rock Canyon to Blakiston Falls.

Doesn't this look like a place where bears would be looking around for berries before they hibernate for the winter?
Oooh, sure enough! There were two black bears on our path! Don't worry--Joe wasn't holding hands with one of them (see above picture). That's just Jimmer wearing his black lumberjack hat!

We were coming back from our hike from the falls when Kathleen and I spotted a black bear about 50 feet ahead of us. We swiftly turned around to meet the rest of our family on the path. I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a picture of it as it stood there looking at us, probably just as surprised as we were! So, after we stepped back another 50 ft or so, I took this picture as it was heading off the hiking trail.As is turns out, the two black bears were a momma bear and cub. They were in no hurry (and thankfully more interested in finding berries), so we had to wait on the path and visit and make a little noise until they decided to move back into the woods. Since we were quite aware that bears can run faster than we can (180 ft. in 3 seconds = ~40 mph), we thanked our lucky stars for our good fortune that they took no interest in us. (The fastest race horses go around 45 mph, so these bears are not far behind!)

After our encounter, we met up with a park ranger and asked if he had many bear encounters.Of course he had come across plenty of bears, but even though he carried a rifle and pistol, he said the most effective protection against bears was his big canister of pepper spray. You have to be an excellent shot to stop a bear with a gun, but his pepper spray (or to be more accurate--pepper fogger) can stop a bear in his tracks. His bear pepper spray is not to be confused with the regular police concentration of pepper spray. The ranger said that regular police carry 9% concentration in a canister about the size of a travel-size hair spray, and park rangers in bear country carry 25% pepper spray in a canister the size of a small fire extinguisher! The next day when we headed into Glacier National Park (Canada side), we spotted a grizzly bear crossing our path. At least we were in our camper at the time!

As the saying goes about black bears being able to climb trees, but grizzlies can't...A black bear will chase you up a tree, and a grizzly will shake you out!

Ha, ha, ha.....ha, ha...ha!

Just a warning about Waterton--it is very windy!Mikey and Kathleen getting blown around on the beach in the morning when the wind was "calm". (I believe it takes at least a 20 mph wind to create white cap waves. These are not-so-small white caps.)

It is especially windy at night in the campground right by the lake. It was so noisy and windy, we had to sleep with the slide-out IN. In the morning, I was not surprised to see that the trees near the lake were growing at a good slant--in the direction of the wind!

St. Mary's Lake on our way out of Waterton.
Since none of us slept very well that night, we had some of this going on again in the RV the next day--on our way to Glacier National Park in Montana.

1 comment:

l e a h said...

I think I'm putting Waterton on my "to visit" list...the water and cliffs are AMAZING!