Awesome moment: Seeing a bear cub in the wilderness.
Not so awesome moment: Seeing a bear cub in the wilderness, blocking my way back to my car, while I’m alone and a good half an hour away from civilization and phone reception.
I was hiking from Jasper townsite back to my car (which was parked much higher), thinking about stuff and minding my own business. Then suddenly, to my right, not 2 feet from me was a bear. It was smaller than most bears I’ve seen, so it was probably a youth. It was eating stuff on the ground. Either it didn’t hear me or didn’t care about me because it didn’t even look up.
I remember my thoughts clearly “Baby bear. Not good. Where do I go? I need to get back to my car but if there’s a bear here, I don’t know if the mother is further down the path. Don’t run.”
I spun around and backtracked, walking as fast as I could.
The bear just ignored me and kept eating.
When I’d reached a safe distance it dawned me: People would want pictures! The thought of me rummaging through my backpack for my camera in front of a baby bear made me smile. From then on, I carried my camera out, just in case…
The strange part of the story is that I can’t remember what the bear looked like. When I try to picture the meeting in my head, the bear is really, really small. “Maybe it was a beaver, not a bear.” (As if I couldn’t tell the difference between a beaver and a bear! Not to mention that we were quite a distance from water.) “Maybe it was a log and not a bear”
It had taken me a couple of seconds to decide that this bear was a baby. Therefore it was almost full grown, not small at all. I’m not one to jump at shadows, so I know it was a bear. Yet my visual memory can’t picture the scene. The images it gives me are just random extrapolations of what I was thinking during the encounter.
Isn’t it funny how memories work?