It was a most welcomed December afternoon as I loaded up the truck, with my faithful black pal, and headed west to the Rockies. It’s so routine that Black Dog appears to expect this weekly adventure as much as he still expects to miraculously return to work someday. While he will never return to work, he may may still inspire others to embrace the outdoors and potential for adventure. Today’s special adventure focuses upon The Teddy Bear’s Picnic.
Why the Teddy Bear’s Picnic? In a most recent adventure, I found myself several kilometres from my vehicle, encountering bear warning signs that were absent in the parking lot. The philosopher in me couldn’t help but wonder if bears could actually read these signs.
Encountering such signs thirty minutes from the parking lot caused me to reassess my safety preparation on mountain treks. I likely watch more documentaries than any one person should, so I recall a lot of useless information that doesn’t help in everyday life. I can’t recall watching a documentary about literate bears. Little Bear, and the Bernstein Bears could read, but those are the few fictional exceptions. One should also keep in mind that bears aren’t cuddly creatures. With this in my mind, I chose to err on the side of caution upon encountering a bear warning sign.
Did you know that a bear can run up to 60 km/h? I’m fairly certain that I can’t run that fast. In fact, I’m certain that people in my neighbourhood can’t even drive that fast. So there you have it, I nor the people in my neighbourhood can outrun or outdrive a bear. Bears may appear to be huge lumbering animals but they are quick, intelligent and resourceful, wild mammals that deserve our respect.
For those familiar with boy scouts, the motto of “be prepared” has been trapped in my mind from decades earlier. Don’t forget the Saturday morning cartoon with GI Joe saying that “knowing is half the battle.” Somewhere between knowing something, half a battle, and being prepared, I had to think bear safety for my next adventure in the wilderness.
With a quick trip to Mountain Equipment CO-OP, I purchased a few bear essentials such as a 225 gram canister of Bear Spray along with bear banger and flares. Along with the canister holster, it was roughly $65.00. It’s a peace of mind investment that’s well worth it.
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the equipment you may depend upon in an emergency, so I promptly fired off a bear banger within in moments of hitting the mountain trails. I used a pen launcher, which was easy to use, but found it could be cumbersome in an emergency. I highly recommend familiarizing one’s self with this before attempting to use it in an actual encounter.
As always, the Black Dog was ready for action upon hearing the shotgun like sound crackle, in the sky, reflect off the majestic mountains. His head was on a swivel…as though a mystery man would charge from the woods for a running apprehension.
Our hike was true bliss, wrapped in the snow covered beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Theoretically I could have called this a day at the beach, but the beach day only applies if Frozen is your favourite movie.
While the lake was frozen from shore to shore, it moaned and groaned like an old dog telling me that I’d best avoid a walk across the lake. Barking as I tossed the occasional snowball, I guess my old dog was telling me to make lots of noise to avoid a surprise encounter with a wild beast.
“Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.” – Unknown. Treat life as an adventure, and seize the opportunity to experience what may be just around the corner…it’s even better to share this with a good friend. If you hit the wilderness, where big creatures may eat you, be prepared for what’s out there, make lots of noise, and be familiar with the equipment that may save your life.