Sunday morning finds me like most mornings, out for my daily walk. Rain or shine I try to get in an hour of exercise by walking some of the local trails and for me Hoy Creek Trail is fairly convenient as it runs parallel to you guessed it, Hoy Creek.
Hoy Creek is a nice little salmon bearing creek that runs down from the local hills that eventually spills into that empties in to the Coquitlam River before it flows in to the mighty Fraser River. Naturally all of these rivers have nice networks of trails that form some of this city’s fantastic green belts which generally begin up in the mountains. Just like in most places mountains mean wild life and wild life means predators are out and about looking for prey and these green belts bring them right in to the heart of many neighborhoods in their search for food.
Fortunately these predators are more interested in the easy food stuffs lying around in the form of garbage than us and our pets but it does put us in contact with them from time to time. Sure we lose the occasional pet to a coyote or two. Every once in a while you hear about an eagle or some bird of prey swooping down and snatching somebody’s idea of a dog up but generally speaking, most wild life encounters are more like sightings.
As my walk progresses along I am forced to leave the trail as none of my options provide a way under or over some of the very busy streets that cross the trail. Making my way down the sidewalk the rain starts coming down even harder as I turn off of Guildford and start down Johnson. The rain is really coming down hard as I hunker under my huge black umbrella. Fat drops of water are cascading off the points of my umbrella as I am look down at my feet trying to gauge just how many of them are actually landing on my shoes and pant cuffs.
The study of the run off occupies my attention for a few minutes as I walk down the sidewalk. Having decided that my feet are going to get wet regardless of anything I might try I look up from under my umbrella to see a huge black bear amble towards me. Because I was not paying attention to where I was going the black bear is like 30 feet in front of me before I notice it. By the look of it the bear has no intention of moving out of my path and to be honest the options are few for either of us.
To my left the bush is quite thick with no good openings to escape our encounter and to my right is a busy 4 lane road. I am standing there thinking to myself what the hell am I going to do? I know you are not supposed to run when encountering large predators as your running transforms you in to prey and the buggers will instinctively chase after you. Besides where am I going to run to? That when I look and notice that the oncoming traffic is caught up at a red light and I see that the light behind me has just turned green.
Thinking to myself I if I start running across the street right now I can just make it to the other side before the traffic gets to me. If that bears tries to chase after me well the cars might scare it off of me and I might escape. That is exactly what I did, ran across the busy 4 lane street. The black bear continued on its way down the sidewalk until it disappeared in an opening in the green belt.
Continuing my walk I couldn’t help but wonder what the bear would have done had I kept walking on the same sidewalk without looking up to see it there before me. Would we have passed each other like a couple of pedestrians ignoring the other as we make our way through our busy workaday lives? Or would it have dove into the bushes regardless of the brambles rather than get that close to a human? This would probably been the reaction but it could have given me a swat with its great paws as a warning for getting too close?
As I finish my walk guess who I ran in to again? That’s right the black bear again. In the time it took me to walk around the block I see the bruin stopping traffic across the even busier Guildford as it made its way back up towards the mountain.