Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bear-ing in mind...

I've had a couple of people challenge the idea of camping, wandering, and roughing it in 'nowhere' Montana with the thought of bear attacks.  Apparently there was an incident last week where 3 people in a campground near Yellowstone NP were attacked (1 person was killed).  So, apparently because of this one attack... I should now fear for my life and stay in a hotel somewhere...

Ummm, really?!  It makes me wonder if any of these people have done their homework.

In the most recent case at Yellowstone, the attack took place at a higher-populated campground.  Bears had been seen in the campground before (red flag #1 - campground frequented as a bear food source?).  The bear also had cubs in the area (red flag #2 - endangering their offspring?).

On average, there are 1-2 fatal attacks on people per year.  This isn't in just Montana.  This is in all of the US and Canada (including Alaska).  That said, there is no way bears are a deterrent for my plans.  Honestly, I look forward to seeing them (from a distance, obviously) in the wild... because I have done my homework.  I don't feel threatened, and I have learned how to react.

Does this mean I won't meet my demise by way of attack if I meet the 'atypical' bear?  Nope.  It could happen. 

Point is... I don't want to be one of those people who live in fear of the unknown.  I'd rather not be confined by the "safety" of my house in the suburbs, with my only entertainment source being the TV/computer/cell phone.  I don't want my experience of the outdoors to happen through the television screen.

So many people fall victim to this.  It's those same people who have pushed things like bear attacks at me.  They are concerned - I understand that.  But what they don't understand is that I might just be safer spending some quality time experiencing the outdoors and the wilderness than I am at home with the crime that runs rampant in cities all over the US - including my own town.

I reiterate one of my most favorite quotes:

"Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast... a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards."

- Edward Abbey