Bears are very unpredictable and are typically just as afraid ofus as we are of them (although many tend not to believe that). However,bears have their own personality. When in bear country, make noise tolet any bear in the area know you're coming. A surprised bear is morelikely to act aggressively than one is that is aware of your presence.If you encounter a bear a few things to keep in mind are:July 24, 1997: Young black bear
Trail: Pyramid Mtn, Jasper NP
Trail is actually a fire road so I ascended with a mountain bike. About45 minutes in, I heard some rustling in the trees on the right. I stoppedand turned in time to see a young black bear scurrying off intodeeper forest cover.

July 31, 1996: Grizzly sow with cubs

Trail: Mt. Tyrwhitt, Kananaskis Country
At the trail head in Highwood Meadows,a bear warning sign informed me of a grizzly sow with cubs in the area. Just as I was about to head out, I talked to park maintenance worker about the sign. He said that the trail had been closed about a week ago but was reopened. See my Mt. Tyrwhitt trail summary for a descriptionleading up to the bear encounter.

I had just reached the first viewpoint of the arch. As I lowered my binoculars andlooked around, my eyes fixated on a grizzly sow maybe 100 feet away in a small standof trees! She looked at me for a few seconds while I tried to get my heart out of mythroat. She then turned away and scampered off further into the trees. A few secondslater, a cub suddenly appeared in the brush in front of me and quickly ran after itsmother. About 10 seconds later, a second cub appeared from the brush. The cub rana few feet, turned around, stood up on its hind legs and looked around. It saw me andimmediately turned and ran after its mother. I stood almost motionless during theentire time perhaps expecting to see the sow make a sudden reappearance. I stood therefor a few minutes to see if I could determine where they were exactly. I thenbacktracked to go around the stand of trees high up onto a rocky slope. I then waitedfor another 15 minutes or so to see if they would make another appearance -- they didn't. I then continued on my way to Mt. Tyrwhitt.Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of the bears.

August 6, 1992: Young black bear

Trail: Floe Lake, Kootenay NP
At the trail head, a bear warning sign informed me of a bear in the area.About an hour in (11 am), I came across a trio of hikers who were walking cautiously.They informed that they had just seen a young black bear on the trail. Ipassed them and sure enough, I caught a glimpse of the bear on the trail.Due to heavy ground cover, I lost sight of the bear in a few seconds so Icontinued with caution. I obviously passed it because I did not encounterit again on the way in to Floe Lake. On the return back to my vehicle,I made extra noise to ensure that the bear would not get startled if he wasby the trail. Around 3:30pm as I was descending a moderate grade, a bear's headpopped up from behind a bush on the right side of the trail. He saw me and Iimmediately halted and started to slowly back up. Fortunately, the bear did notmake any aggressive moves although we were perhaps only 30 - 40ft apart. Afterabout 10 seconds he went on with his business although keeping a wary eye on me.He came a few feet closer and then turned off to left side of the trail behindbrush. I decided to get my camera out and wait for a re-appearance. Sure enoughabout five minutes later, he re-emerged onto the trail.

bear

I was able to get a few good pictures as he straddled the trail while looking at me.Then he scampered down an embankment on the right side of the trail and that wasthe last I saw of him.

bear

Due to its relatively small size and his non-aggressive behaviour, Ifelt reasonable safe. After waiting another ten minutes, I continued on downthe trail to my vehicle.

July 28, 1992: Adult black bear

Trail: Maccarib Pass, Jasper NP
On the return from the pass, I came around a bend in the trail and a largeblack (although it was cinammon color) bear was walking in the creek on theright side of the trail. I stopped dead in my tracks. This was my first faceto face bear encounter (I had seen a black bear while fishing when I was justa kid but that's another story) and it took me by total surprise. Even thoughit was perhaps only 20ft away, it did not appear to see me. It was raining atthe time and he was keeping his head more or less down so he probably didn'tsee me. After watching him for about 10 to 15 seconds, I slowly backed awayfrom trail into some brush. I managed to get my camera out in time to just geta picture of his backside as he had just left the creek and headed into thebrush on the *opposite* side of the creek. After about 10 minutes, seeing ifit was going to backtrack, I got up and continued my return, although theadrenaline rush continued for a few minutes thereafter.

WARNING While the encounters detailed above did not result in injuryor any aggressive behaviour, do not assume this outcome if you happen to encountera bear. You must always consider any bear a serious threat and act accordingly.


©1998 All images by Craig Knelsen. All rights reserved.
Revised: Nov 12, 2002.