Hiking in bear country

Since I moved to Northern B.C., hiking has become one of my favourite activities.

Since I moved to Northern B.C., hiking has become one of my favourite activities.

The only problem is that I don’t get to go as often as I would like.

People are advised not to hike by themselves because of bears, and since I don’t have friends to go hiking every day,

I end up just going sometimes on the weekend. In an effort to change that, I decided to buy a bear spray and a bell bear so that I could go hiking by myself.

When I went into the store to buy bear spray, a salesperson advised me that if I am only hiking around Kager Lake – which is a touristic and therefore busier area -, a bear spray would not be necessary.

So I ended up only purchasing a bear bell.

I also did some extensive research online on what to do if I happen to see a bear, and the different ways to react – if it’s a grizzly or a black bear.

After buying my bear bell and doing some research, I finally felt ready for my little adventure.

When it was somewhat sunny (and therefore there would be more people on the trails), I picked up my bear bell, reviewed what to do in case I saw a bear, and headed to Kager Lake.

The beginning of my hike was completely fine. The bear bell was ringing naturally, accompanying the rhythm of my walk. I could see other people on the trail and I was feeling fairly confident.

As the hike progressed, however, the forest started getting denser and quieter. My bear bell started ringing more frantically as a reflection of my increasing panic.

As I was walking, I started to question if my cute yellow bell would intimate a 600-pound bear.

The answer was probably ‘no,’ so I picked up a large stick and I banged it on a tree several times until it had a sharp edge.

I continued my hike holding the stick up in one hand (as if I was hunting a scary beast) while my other hand was busy ringing the bear bell (which was so noisy at that point I could barely hear my own thoughts).

Some people coming from the opposite direction seemed to wonder why I was caring a stick and being so noisy (but I did my best to act normal when I saw other people).

Even though I was scared, I was proud of myself for not giving up.

But just when I thought I was doing well, I noticed a bear cub running toward me (great, this is how I die).

In a split of a second, all my research and preparation went out the window as I did the exact opposite of what I was supposed to do.

Instead of raising my arms and acting big, the first thing I did was to give my back to the bear and quickly walk in the opposite direction. In fact, I was ready to jump in the lake if I had to (can bears swim?).

My heart was racing and I was overheating.

When I looked back to see if the bear was following me, I realized it was just a black dog (to my defense, I wasn’t wearing my glasses).

I still love hiking, but I probably won’t be going by myself again any time soon (and if I do, I will make sure to bring a bear spray, a bigger bell, and maybe a weapon of some kind).


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