Hiking in Bear Country

On the trails we’re obsessed with finding bear scat.  Bears are amazing animals that we hope to see from a safe distance when we’re out on the trails and not in a surprising up close way.

A few days ago I stumbled upon a talk given by bear expert Dr. Tom Smith at the 2012 NOLS Faculty Summit.  I was intrigued, it was fascinating.  He dispelled many common bear myths and ended the presentation with some good old fashioned bear spray fun.

If you’re looking for a good Saturday night date, cuddle up with the love of your life, pop some popcorn and fire up YouTube to watch his awesome talk.

Here are a few things we took away from it:

  • Never enter bear country without a deterrent option (do you know how to use bear spray?)
  • Always be alert
  • Make noise appropriately (hooray for carrying screaming babies on the trail?!?)
  • If you surprise a bear don’t run or back up, keep your eyes on the bear but if it charges, you can slightly turn so the bear slaps or swipes your pack (unless there’s a baby in that pack) then stay on the ground.
  • Bear bells-they are totally lame and don’t work (plus who wants to listen to bells jingle as they walk down a trail anyway?)

So, after you’re done with your hot Saturday night date, you can head on down to your local bookstore or library and check out two of our favorite bear books.

Hiking with the Grizzlies, Lessons Learned, proven strategies for hiking safely in bear country by Tim Rubbert

NOLS Bear Essentials, Hiking and Camping in Bear Country by John Gookin and Tom Reed

Has anyone ever accidentally surprised a bear?

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  1. Pingback: I Do Carry Bear Spray. Here's Why. -Just Trails

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