In preparation for my trip to Glacier National Park, I’ve been reading up on safety precautions regarding the large bear population that resides there. The National Park Service’s website has a list of tips to help mentally and physically prepare hikers for a possible bear encounter. The overarching theme is “keep calm and get the hell outta there.” While valid, this sentiment seems a bit unrealistic for the kind of person with a fish phobia. Below is the list of suggestions, followed by a more realistic take on each situation.
NPS: “If the bear approaches or charges you – stop. Stand your ground. Speak to it in a calm voice.”
Speak to it in a calm voice? Right. The last time I was in a remotely similar situation, I lost my shit. We got too close to a pair of coyotes while hiking at night and they started howling back and forth. My immediate reaction was to shout, “WHAT DO WE DO?!!!!!!” followed by an idiotic suggestion to run up the side of a fenced in ravine. My cool-headed hiking partner (Luke, of course) calmly suggested we cross to the other side of the creek and walk back the way we came in. This does not give me a lot of confidence in my ability to remain cool around a much larger threat.
NPS: “If it’s a grizzly and is about to make contact, play dead. Lie on the ground on your stomach and cover your neck with your hands.”
This one is easy: there’s no need to play dead because I will actually be dead from a full-on heart attack. Next.
NPS: “Most attacks end quickly. Do not move until the bear has left the area.”
A swift demise is a humane one.
NPS: “If it’s a black bear, fight back. Defensive attacks by black bears are very rare.”
I’m not going to pick a fight with an animal that has paws the size of baseball mitts lined with ninja swords and a jaw that opens wide enough to accommodate a human head. I’d rather activate my bear-resistant force field. What – not into science fiction? Then there’s no way you actually believe I’m going to stand my ground with any sort of beast – chipmunks and brown bears alike.
Who was this guide written for anyway?