So you want to hear my bear story eh?

This is Boo the Grizzly Bear looking fairly nonchalant against a tree (no it is not a man in a suit and yes I had a good zoom lens!). These are my pictures from another trip but my scary bear story starts,
summer 2012 in Fernie, BC. I had seen quite a few bears so far that summer, a few black bears and a few Grizzlies however one encounter was a bit different.
I started pushing my bike up the trail in the provincial park outside Fernie. Just as I neared the top of the track a loud crashing came from the bushes to my right. I was on my own and I was a bit startled by how closee it was, I made lots of noise and certainly warned whatever it was, that I was there and luckily it seemed to move away I assumed it was a moose or elk which commonly found in the park. I carried on pushing uphill now singing loudly and slightly nervously. Then suddenly from in front of me came the loudest roar I had ever heard. It came from somewhere further up the single track. Before I could even think I was greeted by a full grown grizzly bear charging me and still roaring loudly at about 20 metres away, I foolishly had no bear spray with me so I just stood still. I remember noting the rippling muscle of its huge bulk as it sprinted towards me, it was so fast for such a large animal. Instinct took over and I thought to myself stand my ground, move my bike in front and just look as big as possible. I stretched to my full 6’4″ height and shouted ‘away, away’. It slowed and stopped about 20 feet away. It’s just a bluff charge I thought, phew, I’ll try to back away and all will be good. Then the bear proceeded to stand on its hind legs and roar again, it seems bears are pretty tall on their hind legs!! The scale of the animal up so close was certainly enough to freak the life out of me, it lowered itself and prepared to charge one more time. This was insane I can’t stand here any longer or I’ll be dead I thought and swung my bike around and with a running jump launched downhill. I knew the steep twisting trail well and as the bear gave chase I focused on going fast and getting out of there. I flew off jumps and focussed on not crashing but riding the run of my life, I would have loved to have had a timer or even a GPS but instead it was all just a memory.

DSCN0943 I am not sure where the bear stopped it’s chase I didn’t stop until I was back at home. I was just glad the trail was twisting, I knew it well and I could head downhill to flee the scene fast.

After analysing the incident I think the first noise I heard was some bear cubs and I had managed to get in between them and their mum. Me making loud noises which would normally be effective was probably antagonizing the bear, so I think it was the right decision to get out of there! Grizzlies can run up to 45 mph which is deceptively fast, but on that tight terrain it was slightly slower than me.

Fleeing really is only possible on a bike and in an extreme situation like that. It is quite common for them to bluff charge in such a situation but to charge again in such aggressive manner and then give chase is pretty unusual. Most of the Fernie locals were amazed to hear the story and only a few such close encounters could be remembered in the local area. It certainly took a while for me to get back on the bike and riding on my own. I never did ride that trail again, especially as the week after another local guy came across two cougars hanging out halfway down!
I saw a few more Grizzly’s that summer even a few with cubs like an incident on the remote Heiko’s trail, but I was never on my own again and never did they challenge me in such a way. They just ran away.DSCN0939

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