Bears, Bears, Bears

My summer of bears started in June on our first camping trip. With my companions, Taz, the Jack Russell,and Scruff, the Schweenie, I had headed out for a walk, first among the cabins and then out into the sand hills. There was no need to take my phone, except if I had, I’d have gotten the calls and texts warning me of the big black bear that was wandering the edge of the lake, too. Oblivious, the dogs and I continued on until the park caretaker picked us up and drove us back to the camper in his side-by-side. I never saw the bear.
.Miette Hot Springs is in Fiddle Valley in Jasper National Park so it’s no surprise that bears wander into the resort. My son and his kids were in a cabin near us and he saw the bear while lying on his bed when he glanced into a mirror in the bedroom. I didn’t answer his text so he came right over, in case I took the dogs out for their morning constitutional and I ran into Mr. Bear.

In July, we were at Pierce Lake in Saskatchewan. A sow and four cubs had been in the vicinity so I was careful on the dog walks. So was the Jack Russell, a 12 pound bunch of spastic muscle. She smelled something and raced off, jerking me off balance. I tangled in the other dog’s leash. Yup, I fell hard and a week later still have a skinned knee. To Taz’s credit, I could hear crashing in the bushes. Was it a bear? It could have been, but it could have been a moose or deer.

On our next walk, a car stopped and the young man driving said, “You won’t remember me but…”

I said, “Kevin.”

Not a twelve year old kid, any more but I did know we’d camped and played ball with him years ago.

He had stopped to warn me about the bear. We chatted and he drove on. Not twenty feet up the road, I saw her. She was a big black bear and thin. Looking after four cubs will do that to you. I’d like to say the dogs and I turned and walked calmly away. I didn’t. I turned and ran and the dogs who didn’t see the bear thought what fun it was.

Later, Gary drove me “up the hill” to try and get cell phone service. From the truck, we spotted one of the cubs. It looked sleek, healthy and well fed.

Yesterday, we packed up and headed home. On the highway, a young bear started out of the ditch into our path but luckily changed his mind.

It’s still July. The bears this year seem active and in territories where they are more rare. Be alert. If you hear cracking branches in the bush, it could be a bear. Be safe.

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