Canadian Encounters

When I was 13-years-old I had one of the scariest encounters of my life. It was the type of thing where when I look back at it now, it honestly seems like it was only a dream. But it wasn’t. My sister, Shannon, and I argued over a quicker route home. Shannon wanted to stick on the main road to get to our bus stop. However, being the stubborn, adventurous and invincible young teenager, I took the path less traveled. It was a decision that I would not even suggest for Robert Frost on this particular day. It was not a bad shortcut, the trail was fairly well worn and it simply cut through the forest and then along a dirt road towards the bus stop. Of course I popped my ear-buds in and cranked my tunes up loud, as teenagers do. Then, enjoying the beats rattling around in my head, I upped my pace to a brisk walk. As, I of course had to beat my sister to the bus, to show her how much of a better route mine was. I got through the forest section and the field section and had been walking on the dirt road for a minute when it happened. If it wasn’t for my ear-buds I probably would have heard it sooner. But no, I had to listen to my music on max this day. The first thing I saw was it’s head peaking up over the bank directly in front of me on my right. Instantly, I froze. I was in complete shock as it slowly ambled up out of the bank. It’s black shaggy, shiny coat rippled as the large black bear curiously started walking on all fours directly towards me. Suddenly, all the bear training from elementary and Bear Awareness pamphlets kicked in. I quickly dropped my gaze from it’s big curious face to it’s huge vicious yet goofy looking paws and started backing up. This is a gesture which tells the bear “I mean no harm!! This is your territory?? Oh shit yeah I’m sorry man, I’m leaving”. My family and I had done this on occasions before. However in those occasions the bears were farther away, smaller, and I wasn’t alone. Oh yeah and in those cases the bear turned around and lost interest in a group of hikers. I was all on my own and this guy was either curious or hungry as for every step I took back he seemed to take two towards me. The amount of adrenaline coursing through my veins at this point would probably have been enough to bring back someone from the dead. The bear at this point was approximately 15 feet away from me at this point and was approaching at an angle to the road. This forced my backup route to take an angle as well. It was just as I was realizing this that I heard a deep grunt from the bear. As it was grunting, I saw it lean forward on its front paws and then spring backwards off of them. This is the part where I couldn’t believe I didn’t faint. As it reared up on it’s hind legs my gaze followed it up and I saw how powerful and majestic it really was. It’s massive paws were outstretched waiving slowly around as it balanced on his rear legs standing like the leaning tower of Pisa as it continued shuffling towards me. I tore my eyes away from him and took a glance behind me and it revealed my escape plan. I took a few brisk steps backwards into the ditch on the other side of the road. The bear was practically directly across the small dirt road from me, maybe 12 feet at most. There was a barbed wire fence behind me and on the other side was a field of horses which were running around the enclosure due to the threat of the bear. I knew my safety was with the horses in the field. I took a quick breath and made my move. I slipped my backpack off tossed it over the fence behind me and jumped between the barbed wires all in one fluid fast motion. Then grabbed my bag and sprinted like my life depended on it towards the horses and the other side of the field. As I was getting in stride I did a quick shoulder check to see whether or not the bear was partaking in the chase. Luckily, it deemed the barbed wire fence too much of a hassle and was already on all fours sniffing the bottom of fence where I jumped. I leaped over the fence on the other side of the field, cut through a property to the main road and ran all the way to the bus stop. As soon as I arrived at the bus stop, my sister instantly asked me “What happened?! Your face is like a white sheet!”. I could barely muster words other than, “b-b-b-bear” and I gave my big sister a big hug. She did not say “ I told you so!” she just embraced me and that was exactly what I needed in that moment.