Thursday, July 01, 2010

Bear Country

The Tour Divide passes through a lot of bear country, so on my recent trip, I took precautions. I had a Bear Bell on my bike which jangled with every bounce of the bike. I sang (badly) to myself and to alert any bears that I was passing through. I didn't bother carrying bear spray. I just couldn't picture a scenario where I'd be close enough to a bear to need it and still be calm enough to blast a load of pepper into the bear's face.

My precautionary measures did the trick. In Canada I caught glimpses of a couple of black bears and the US portion of my trip was bear free. I never saw any grizzlies.

I did see lots of signs of bears. I saw tracks. I saw lots of bear scat, which I neglected to photograph. I can tell you that it's really true. Bears really do that thing folks say bears do in the woods. They do it a lot.

Most of the bear signs I saw were signs placed by humans warning other humans about bears. In addition to the signs, you know you are in bear country when the garbage cans are built like bank vaults.

The main rules in bear country are these:

  • Don't mess with the bears
  • Don't surprise the bears
  • Stash your food away from where you sleep
I didn't have a big bear-proof case for my food, so each night in bear country, I packed my food and empty food wrappers in a nylon stuff bag and hung it up in a tree, away from my camp.

Bear country is beautiful country and I loved traveling there. But it's important to remember that humans are not the top of the food chain there. I was always very aware of that and I made it home safely.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
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