National Geographic : 1973 Jun
with bears can be avoided by hanging food in a tree at night, not leaving garbage around, and not cooking in tents. But what if you sud denly meet a grizzly on the trail-perhaps the most dangerous, a sow with cubs? How to Confront a Bear Wilderness veterans offer numerous sug gestions, some conflicting. The ones I heard went like this: Freeze. Make noise. Walk well off the path to pass. Climb a tree. (But remem ber that black bears, unlike grizzlies, can climb too.) If charged, fall to the ground in a posture of harmlessness, like a puppy before a large dog. Curl into a ball, with arms pro tecting the neck. Stand your ground and bluff the critter down. Some hikers tie small bells on their packs so grizzlies will hear them coming. "Most bears will avoid you," Laszlo said. "Butastowhattodoifyoumeetone,I wouldn't want to give advice." I asked Laszlo what he did. "I got scared," he answered. "I've been close to grizzlies twice on trails. I froze, then backed off, and hoped they would go away. They did." As September arrived, Mick and I were anxious to finish. We pored over maps of the last and longest stretch of trail we would travel-101 miles. It looked easy: A walk mainly along the Snake Indian and Smoky Rivers, draining the northern parts of Jasper, with only two modest climbs; then across Mount Robson Provincial Park and down to trail's end at the Yellowhead Highway. This promised to be as pure a wilderness as we would see; its middle reaches, far from roads and feeder trails, are known to only a comparative handful of hikers. Under a clear sky we started off on this last leg of our long trek. Wolves had walked this path a day or so before; their tracks showed in the mud around stream beds. We wound across fields of low yellowing willows and through clumps of gleaming aspens.