The erratic Grizzly Bear is a resident of the hills and valleys of the Whistler Corridor. These terrific animals are true survivors.
That does not mean you will never meet up with one although the population is rare. The region around Birkenhead and the Lillooet rivers are home to a few.
Irma and I have never met up with a grizzly. We’d have liked to see one but. Most of us have seen them on TV when they’re shown fishing at the many waterfalls in Alaska. That is all and fine but when food is scarce, or you’re in the vicinity of a fresh kill, or a cow with cubs is nearby, you may be in danger.
A Couple of years ago, Irma and I had an opportunity to visit the Sheep Mountain area in the Kluane National Park in Canada’s Yukon Territory. We visited the Visitor Center there and decided to hike up to the peak of the mountain the following day.
The kind lady there advised us to be careful to make plenty of noise because a female with cubs was seen a few times.
During July in that region, the daylight is widespread for around 21 of the 24 hours in a day. We had trouble. We set off on our hike early in the morning from the parking lot on the Slims River. Where we found the trailhead the first part of the hike took us along a roadway at the side of the river, then along the highway for a mile or so.
The hike was quite steep with many switchbacks. The elevation gain was approximately 3,500 feet. All the way up the road the ground was torn up by Grizzly bears as they searched for ground squirrels.
Here was proof of determination and the energy of those creatures. A few of the holes were seven feet wide and three feet deep. Mounds of earth were. It is amazing the work they will do in their efforts to discover a tiny little animal.
We arrived at the summit of Sheep Mountain and sat down to have our lunch. Dall Sheep were. We counted over 100 animals. The men with their curling horns were in a group while the many females and their kids were split and scattered.
The Kluane lake itself was amazing with white fluffy clouds that were hugely reflected from the emerald green waters. In every direction were snow-capped mountaintops. Way off in the distance up the Slims river valley we could see the remarkable Kaskawulsh Glacier. From 22 km away it was still a sight.
We spent the day winding our way down to the west departure creeks with displays of wildflowers. We entered the canyon where the Grizzly with cubs was residing and used our pots and spoons to make as much noise as possible.
With caution, Grizzlies will leave the region. Surprise them, and you’ll be treated.
We did see plenty of tracks along the old roadway we had found although we didn’t find the bears. We found our way back tired but thrilled with all the memories of a fantastic adventure. Among the best 10 hour hikes. If you get the chance to do this one.
By the way, the Kaskawulsh Glacier hike is one that leads up along the Slims River for 22 km in the Visitor Center. It is a tough one as you’ll need to cross cold creeks and carry a secure bear container (available at the center). You cannot go without one.
The Grizzly Bear can be identified from the hump behind the shoulders. They are brown as opposed to black to the black bear. Other colors may be, pale to black, fawn and red color.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU MEET ONE
If you meet with a grizzly or some animal that is wild DON’T RUN. That is the last thing you need to do. Running triggers the pursuit in a wild animal.
Back off if the bear hasn’t charged but keeps confronting the animal. Be careful not to trip while creeping backward. Any sudden movement may trigger a fee. Space will be to your benefit. I repeat DO NOT RUN. Get out if the land.
Get on the ground in a fetal position, if the bear attacks and get your head. Get your thumbs or fingers if you get a chance. Eyes are the areas of the body. If you can gouge out them. It will be you against a wild beast. It does or die time. It’s not the time to be gentle.