Friday, September 9, 2016

Jurassic Park Revisited

"Bears seen in campground". "Be bear aware". These are just two of the signs we saw while bikepacking in the Slocan Valley a few weeks ago.

In fact, one morning while walking through the camp at Springer Creek to visit the washroom, there were three bears blocking my path. A mother and two cubs. I slowly backtracked and then advised our neighbours of the problem. They had children scattered amongst the camp sites and a dog wandering around. Quickly the parents gathered the children around them and the dog was tied to a tree.

On our first day of bikepacking, we were stopped by an elderly couple standing beside their bikes off to the side of the trail. They pointed down the path about twenty metres where two bears were shuffling along. Once the bears scooted into the woods, the couple were more than happy to let my son Chris and I lead the way, ringing our bike bells, cans of bear spray in our hands.

It was on the second day of bicycle camping that we spied a large black animal ahead of us. Peering through my binoculars, I determined that what we were seeing was a black cow with three calves behind her. Not knowing what to do, we decided to turn our bikes around and find a way past this small herd.

Just as we began to turn around, another cyclist approached from behind the cow and calves. Shouting "Shoo!" and waving one arm in a dismissive manner, he easily got the cow to move ahead of him and toward us. We got off our bikes and placed them between us and the cow (to act as shields). The cow didn't pay us the slightest attention as she waddled past our position. As he approached, the cyclist commented "I can tell you aren't locals!".

Filled with confidence, we mounted our bikes and started pedaling toward the three calves ahead of us. It was only as the mother began to bellow that we realized we were in the predicament of being between her and her offspring. Chris was in the lead and as he looked over his shoulder he shouted "Dad! That cow is right behind you!".

In my mirror, the cow was framed perfectly by the inscription "Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear". "Holy shit!" I screamed as I bore down on my pedals. I was quickly closing in on Chris whose way was blocked by the nervous calves.

In a scene reminiscent of Jurassic Park where the T Rex is chasing the jeep, I have an angry cow on my heels, my two hundred and forty pound son blocking my way and three calves bucking and squirming all over the trail ahead of us.

We cycled full speed for half a kilometre before the calves discovered a path that led back to their pasture. They raised a cloud of dust as they skidded around the corner to safety. As I ran out of steam, my only hope of salvation was that the pissed off mother would follow them. Being able to write this is proof that she did.

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