“About eight years ago, my wife and I lived in South Korea and…” I started telling my story to the red masked bandit about this time when I decided to drive out to Nordegg, Alberta Canada to go on a spring hiking trip.
Let’s quickly backup… In January 2012 my wife and I moved to Stony Plain Alberta after departing from a small town north of Seoul, South Korea. We were living in South Korea teaching English. Upon our return to Alberta, I was given a book about hiking in the David Thompson Corridor. Its literally the area between Jasper National Park and Banff National Park. It starts near the town of Rocky Mountain House and ends at Saskatchewan Crossing. A stretch of about 210 kilometres, give er take a few kilometres.
I’m standing in the back left corner of the Rock and Gem shop off 111th avenue and roughly 149th street NW in Edmonton. The wife and I are out on a leisurely Saturday afternoon. I’ve just finished listening to a story by the red masked bandit. Go here to read that story: A Red Masked Bandit Tells a Story in a Rock and Gem Shop.
“About eight years ago, my wife and I lived in South Korea and when we returned we moved to Edmonton. Now you need to understand that I am an avid solo-hiker. I rarely go with others. And I was told that the David Thompson Corridor is where all the rogue bears from Jasper and Banff National Parks are drugged then dropped off, in the hopes that the bears do not return nor do they eat tourists. Thus you should be ‘super careful when hiking in that area’. I’ve never paid much attention to the areas where I am hiking. I just go, because I love being alone on a hike with nature. Its a fear factor and a fear chaser that I love. Well that and not seeing another person for many many hours. Anyways I digress.”
“One sunny Friday afternoon it must have been late April or early May, when I pulled all of my hiking gear out of storage and went through it. Ready for the next day, I hit the bed early. Saturday morning, I rose at seven in the morning, had breakfast grabbed my things and out the door I went. A few hours later I arrived in Nordegg, located the mining trail, parked the truck and started up the trail. There was no one in site. I loved it. The smells, the fresh air, the pine cones. I wandered up the forestry road for probably a few hours gaining elevation and super excited about checking out the old mines at the top. I had done a bit of research and was super interested as I’d lugged my camera and tripod with me to ensure I would come away with some pretty decent shots.”
“As I wound up around the bend I spotted snow up ahead and started to laugh. I had not considered the snow wouldn’t have melted off yet? Because in South Korea as soon as March hit what was “old man winter” was swept away with a strong wind and really warm temperatures. Standing not he precipice of do I stay or do I go down the hill from which I came, I looked down to see… “wholly fucking shit! Is that a bear paw? that’s a bear paw? oh man, oh man! That’s a bear paw!” spinning around I noticed bear paw prints down the track from which I had just hiked up. I hadn’t noticed because down there I was looking up here at snow. Shit Shit Shit. Fawwwwk! What to do? What kind of bear is it? Shit!. I pulled out the smartphone typed in bear paws and started comparing the images on the phone with the actual ring in the mud. Turns out the paw prints were black bear! what I didn’t know then, is black bears are the more aggressive bear when it comes to black or grizzly when it comes to humans in their territory. I then spotted several piles of bear poop. Shit. Really. Not now. I looked around and didn’t see any bears at the edge of the woods and there were no signs of bears up the snow track. BUT I wasn’t about to take my chances going any further up the trail.”
“Immediately, I turned around then BLEWWWWWWW my whistle as loud as I could and started singing as LOUD as possible a tune that just started out of nothing and went something like… OOOOH Mister Bear, I don’t know who you are and you don’t know me. OOOOH Mister Bear I think its time for me to leeeeave! OOOOH Mister Bear I am sorry to goooo… I really love the snow! OOOOH Mister Bear you can go over there and I can go over here. OOOOH Mister Bear lets be sure we stay apart away away away from here. OOOOH Mister Bear…” and the song went on and on as I sung the random lyrics to the bear, blew on my whistle and high tailed it out of there back down to the truck.”
“It had taken me nearly two and a half hours to reach that precipice in the snow and it only took twenty-five minutes to get back down.”
The man in the red bandit mask looked at me with his steely blue eyes and said, “that’s a great story! Did you see a bear?” at which I replied, “I have been on many a hikes in that area and I still have not seen a bear. Mind you me, that I am a-okay with not having been confronted with a bear. Although I do today, carry a much bigger knife and bear spray just in case I need to make myself more tempting for a bear out there in the wilderness.” He laughed, we laughed and then the red masked bandit started rattling off a one-hundred and-one track of where you can go in and around the Mount Robson area, Prince George and the middle northern British Columbia areas, if you wanted to see a bear! A few minutes later the masked man’s attention was drawn to the store owner about a piece of gold that he had panned in the mighty North Saskatchewan river sometime a few years back.
And with a gust of wind the front door opened, the man in his Panama hat and red bandana pushed the door outside with his butt whilst saying into the store, “you all enjoy your Saturday afternoon. Have a wonderful life,” we all smiled beneath our masks and responded in unison, “you as well my friend, you as well,” then he turned and out the door he went.