Last week our oldest son and his family went hiking/camping in the mountains of western Alberta. The campsite they chose had warnings of bear sightings and an app was offered for updates, which they took. On the second or third day the campground was advised that a pair of adult Grizzlies was possibly heading in their direction and to be aware. They decided to stay close to home until word was given that the bears had either veered off or passed on by. It was a warm day and Christina and the kids were having lunch while Jared wandered down to the edge of the nearby stream for a quick dip to cool off. Word came that the bears were nearing the camping ground so she ordered the kids into the van but couldn’t reach Jared who was up to his waist in ice cold, glacial meltwater. The first of the Grizzlies suddenly appeared as she was gathering up the last of the food from their table and was hustling to the van. At this point she realized that while 5 year old Hanna had gone where she’d been ordered, 3 year old Isaac had, predictably, gone back into the tent instead, since that’s where his toys were. With the huge bear less than ten feet distant, she walked in front of it to the tent, grabbed Isaac, and hauled him back to the safety of the van. The bear paid no attention and appeared to be interested only in the few scraps of food that had fallen to the ground.
Jared, meanwhile, had spotted what was going on up the slope and was about to get out of the water to find a circuitous route back when the second bear showed up just a few yards away and was coming directly at him. He retreated back and lowered himself to neck depth but noted he was now practically numb with cold and could barely move. The bear never even looked at him but entered the shallows and began to drink. He estimated that if he had taken three steps forward he could have touched the animal. Another ten minutes passed before it wandered off and Jared managed to get out of the now-arctic temperature water. There was much relief among the campers, of course, but Jared’s great regret was that he had been unable to get a single picture.