I looked at my blogging schedule for the month and saw that today is marked as a miscellaneous post day. What should I blog about? I’ve been pretty excited about my 2030 ET novella as I push on to complete it by the end of the month. I’ve also received some of the concept art for the novella which I think looks pretty darn cool. But my schedule already has days allocated to blog about my novella so, on a whim, I’ve decided to blog about my favorite pastime in BC, which is going on short treks / long walks with my lovely wife in the beautiful BC countryside. Related to this, I guess I must blog about our paranoia of meeting a bear in the wild.
The first trek that we ever did after we moved to BC in August last year was around Buntzen Lake. The trek itself took us just over two hours. There are some elevation changes over the 10 kilometer walk, but overall the walk itself is not too challenging. Starting from the recreation area adjacent to the parking lots, we circumnavigated the lake counter clockwise. The path kept us close to the lake most of the way. There is a nice beach about half way through directly across the lake from the parking lot where you start (the parking lot is to the south; the beach is to north).
After the beach, there is a bit of a climb, and there are a couple of nice spots which give you great vistas over the lake. Make sure you take some pictures here because the trail heads into the forest and to my recollection I don’t think you get another viewpoint like this. Towards the end of the trek, you descend out of the forest and back towards the lake and then walk along a gravel / dirt road. The road takes you to a marshy area which you cross over a bridge which takes you back to a patch of woods before you get back to the recreation area and the parking lot.
The website Vancouver Trails also provides a map and details of the trail.
Just before crossing the bridge my wife and I saw a warning sign that said, “Bear in the Area.” Six months on, having done many hikes, we realize that practically every trail in BC has a bear warning sign, but this was the first time we saw one. Both of us immediately looked at each other with nervous looks on our faces. Bear in the area? Was it just a generic warning or did someone actually see a bear here recently?
It didn’t help that we noticed many blackberry bushes while crossing the bridge. I pointed them out to my wife and informed her that bears loved to eat blackberries. Both of us sped up. The moment we got off the bridge I picked up a big stick laying besides the path, you know, just in case. In retrospect, it probably isn’t the best idea to attempt to defend yourself against a rampaging black bear with a rotten stick. Curling up in a fetal position gives you a better chance of survival.
Fortunately, once we crossed the bridge, instead of a bear we encountered a bunch of Korean students; we walked ahead of them but only just far enough that they were still in sight and earshot. They were quite noisy so we hoped any bears nearby would be scared away.
An aside: While trekking in BC, you occasionally see warning signs for cougars!
I think it’s kind of cute how they show the size difference between a cougar, a bobcat, and a housecat. Is this to prevent false alarms so that BC Parks are not inundated with calls from tourists and newbie trekkers like us when they see someone’s lost tabby thinking that they encountered a wildcat?
Finally, to end the post, I think it’s good to review what to do in case you ever do meet a bear in the woods: back away slowly. Don’t panic and don’t run. Best practice, however, is to avoid a bear encounter in the first place. Make lots of noise as you walk along. Talk loudly to your friends and/or partner. Where a bell on your backpack. Bears, especially black bears, are generally placid and have no interest in messing around with us humans. The only danger is if you encounter a mother with her cubs or a bear that is eating a kill. And again, if you make some noise while you walk along the bears will get out of your way so it is highly unlikely that you will ever meet one.
If you are new to BC, please don’t let bear paranoia keep you from enjoying the beautiful outdoors. It hasn’t kept us from doing so, and we love our Saturday adventures more than anything.
Feel free to check out my Instagram for more nature pictures. The pictures in this post and all the pictures on my Instagram are shot from my old Samsung S4 phone. I actually think the phone does pretty well in good lighting.
Feel free to comment with any interesting encounters in the wild of your own!