So yesterday I went on a search for bears.
See, contrary to promises made to people back home about not actively seeking out a creature that could possibly maim and kill me, I was determined I would see a bear before I left Whistler. It seems like everyone in Whistler has seen a damn bear. Every second person you talk to will have some tale of a bear randomly crossing their path, entering their condo, appearing somewhere. Half these people didn’t even want to see a bear. And here I was, actively seeking out a bear, with arms outstretched, and no dice. Some of those people had even seen three bears. I mean that’s just being greedy.
Anyway. So I decided to hit the trail and going hiking. Someone had reccomened Lost Lake as a good hiking place so I headed in that direction. Without a map. Because clearly going hiking in the wilderness without a map is an entirely sane and good idea.
To be honest, it’s a wonder I didn’t end up somehow turning into the guy from that movie In To The Wild… except, you know, he actually had plans to be lost in the wilderness and supplies and all I had was a packet of gummy bears and my phone charger because apparently I still chuck my phone charger into my backpack despite the fact I’ll be in the middle of the woods. Woods have charging facilities right?
Anyway. It was all ok, because some helpful person had left markers to help guide stupid people like me who go places without maps.
It occurred to me whilst blithely following each of these very obviously hand-written signs that this would be an excellent way for a serial killer to lure people to their deaths – everyone would just happily following these deaths and then, boom! Killed with a machete.
It wasn’t a particularly comforting thought to have at the time.
But back to the bear search. In an attempt to maximise chances of sighting a bear, I decided to take every little side path or path off the beaten track that no other people were on. The ones that led deeper into the woods. The ones that, y’know, were probably more likely to see me killed by the Crazy Forest Hermit. I mean they didn’t explicitly tell us there was a Crazy Forest Hermit, but, c’mon, of course there is. Mind you, if Crazy Forest Hermit did try to kill me, chances are I’d scream, “WAIT, DON’T KILL ME, I HAVEN’T SEEN A BEAR YET!” And the Hermit would pause, look incredulous and say, “you haven’t seen a bear yet? Dude, it’s Whistler” because it would be just like the Crazy Forest Hermit to rub it in like that.
In the first hour, I saw a grand total of zero bears, but I did manage to see… squirrels! Look, I know a lot of you don’t understand this obsession with squirrels, but it’s just: we don’t have them in Australia. And they are these teensy creatures with poofy tales and big eyes and how can you not love them!?!
Also, apparently, as I learnt that day, they are also extremely angry little creatures.
Honestly, the closer you get, the more they chatter and dance up and down like they’re literally going to lunge for you. My thought process went from “awww what a cute little thing!” to “holy shit is that thing about to leap from the tree and gouge my eyes out?!?” At which point, I felt genuine fear and quickly scuttled away.
Which didn’t really bode well for if I did come across a bear, because, well if a squirrel could scare me…
Although that point was irrelevant, because, alas, I encountered no bears on my three hour hike. I encountered many squirrels, one chipmunk, one disgustingly oozy slug and also one man who I swear was sunbathing in the nude on the jetty, and I went to take a photo to be like, “is this dude naked?!?” and then it occurred to me that I was trying to zoom and focus my camera to take a photo of a naked man and I quietly put my phone away, walked away and reevaluated my life choices.
So I was resigned to leave Whistler this morning without my desired bear sighting. I loaded onto the bus, settled in my window seat and watching the scenery fly by. A sign came into view as we drove: “CAUTION: BEARS NEXT 60M” and I thought to myself, “PFFFFTTTT, as if, what LIES, there are no bears, this is a conspiracy I bet, a Canadian conspir – OH HOLY SHIT THATS A BEAR THATS A BEAR OVER THERE ITS RIGHT THERE OH MY GOD OH MY GOD.”
Yes, in the distance, a black trundling figure, a GODDAMN BEAR. Just as I was leaving. I squealed and gasped and got excited and pointed it to other passengers who looked slightly bemused and very disinterested and I can only assume they are bear sighting aficionados.
So I arrived in Vancouver early morning and decided that, after so much nature and beauty over the last few days, I really needed to balance it out with some good old fashioned retail therapy. I checked google maps and it told me a particular store I wanted to visit was a 1 hour and 40 minute walk. People told me it was a significantly less amount of time if I actually took a moment to figure out public transport and to them I say, bah! If I didn’t need maps in the wilderness, as if I need public transport!
And, in any case, to all those believers in so-called “public transport”, a bus ride means you miss on vital sights.
Like more squirrels.
See my walk to the shops took me right through the gorgeous Stanley Park, which, as well as being picturesque and peaceful, was also apparently home to a lot of squirrels. And not just the little squirrels I’d been seeing either: there were grey squirrels and black squirrels and red squirrels. It was like “one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish” but with squirrels.
Unfortunately the grey and black squirrels didn’t seem to understand that I meant them no harm and was not a danger, because they all fled instantly from me, not realising all I wanted to do was to love and cuddle and smuggle them to Australia to live with me for all eternity like some sort of crazy squirrel woman.
… maybe they did realise that.