So did anyone else who enjoys camping and hiking see this article and feel totally creeped out?
It's a news item from a few days ago, in which a black bear (not a Grizzly) slit open a tent in a campground and dragged off an eleven year old boy.
The story does not have a happy ending.
Yes, Crabby knows: it's very rare, it's not the bear's fault, expanding human habitation, blah, blah blah.
Still--the kid was minding his own business in a tent and got dragged away, like something out of a spooky old German fairy tale or your worst nightmare.
Hiking in remote and beautiful national parks is one of Crabby's favorite recreational activities. It's healthy and fun and Crabby loves it--or she always used to. But with more and more stories of bear and mountain lion attacks (sorry, no actual tigers in this post), she finds herself enjoying these hikes less than she used to.
When she's in Serious Bear Country she and Most Significant Other still venture out. (They love the Canadian Rockies, for example, but--loads o' bears there.) But if you're not traveling in a large group, you're supposed to make a fair amount of noise so you don't startle any of them and rile them up.
Have any of you ever done a hike like this? Do you not feel ridiculous? We shake cans of rocks or clap; we talk extra loud or sing silly go-away-bear songs. We then cringe when stray hikers surprise us coming from the opposite direction as we are bellowing out nonsensical lyrics. The experience is not all that relaxing.
Crabby knows actual bear attacks are rare, but she and MSO had a scary bear encounter a year or two ago. It was a black bear too, but one that had grown unafraid of people. It was waiting for us on the trail; it had heard us coming, as we'd been making all the requisite noise, but it did not flee as it was supposed to. It advanced. Banging sticks together and trying to look large, we demanded, in stern tones of voice: "Go Away Bear!"
The bear did not go away as requested.
It was a really big bear too. Crabby had never seen a huge bear up that close, at least not a live one outside of a cage.
The bear seemed intrigued by the noise, but not the least bit frightened. After a bit it stopped advancing, but it still did not leave, either.
Okay, so eventually it did. But not for a really long time. (Well, maybe three minutes, but it felt like a very long three minutes).
So Crabby will still go hiking, sometimes, but she and MSO find themselves, more often than they used to, sticking to crowded trails with plenty of other hikers. Sometimes, when choosing between a potentially spectacular nature hike in an area where mountain lions have been recently sighted, or a nice paved path around a lake where they have not, Crabby and MSO will opt for the wimpier route.
Crabby knows she really should somehow end this post with a cheerful "don't let your silly fears stop you, go out there and explore the wilderness! After all, you're much more likely to get hit by lightning than eaten by a bear or a lion!"
But this is Cranky Fitness. And Crabby is plenty scared of lightning too.
So, dear readers, any thoughts about hiking, bears, freak accidents, fears, the necessity (or not) of braving said fears? All comments welcome, relevant or not!