The Secret to Hiking with Grizzlies

By Jack Edwards

I take deep pleasure in hiking through the great outdoors.  At the mere suggestion from my wife that we go for a hike, usually at gun point, I hop right off the couch.  So I guess you can call me an “outdoor enthusiast.” This is why I was riveted by news that the National Park Service is considering restoring grizzlies to the “North Cascades Ecosystem.”  I read this in an article in the Seattle Times, by Phuong Le, titled, “Grizzly bears in the North Cascades? Feds release plan to restore population.”

Because I’m working on being a more “positive thinking” person, I decided to make a list of how this might enhance my life, and the lives of others – both adults and children (or as grizzlies refer to them, snack-size people).  (Sorry!  “Positive, Jack, stay positive!”)

The first thing you have to remember is that while these majestic creatures may seem “scary” or “intimidating,” Le’s article notes that, “grizzly bears tend to avoid areas of human activity.”  So it seems that we are unlikely to see a grizzly slipping into to a Seattle Starbucks for a half-caf vanilla latte after a long hibernation.  On the other hand, they enjoy a well-groomed hiking trail as much as the rest of us.  My brother-in-law, Tucker, and his wife, Jan, ran into a grizzly years ago while hiking in Montana.  They’re still trying to scrub the undies they were wearing that day back to their original white.  (“Okay, STOP with the negative, Jack!”)

Here are three benefits of hiking with grizzlies:

  1. Le reports that the grizzlies will “be radio-collared and monitored.” Talk about a silver lining. This means that whatever particular body part (or if he’s really hungry, “parts”) of your hiking buddy are missing, rangers can quickly locate and recover them.  (Presupposing the grizzly is willing to give it back.)  A funeral director can sew it back on in no time – probably at no extra charge (who are we kidding, he’s a funeral director.)
  2. According to Wikipedia, grizzly bears weigh no more than 900 pounds. So if you hike in groups of five to ten people, you’ll match his weight, and have at least a fighting chance. In the alternative, you can walk toward the back of the group, if you get my drift.  What’s the old saying? “You don’t have to outrun a grizzly, you only have to out run your friends.”

And,

  1. I don’t want to get all religious, or “controversial,” but life in heaven is supposed to be significantly more enjoyable than life on earth.

In conclusion, I look forward in great anticipation, to the return of these magnificent creatures to Northwest hiking trails.  I want to continue to enjoy the great outdoors, and now that I think about it, I want to help my friends and relatives, my elderly friends and relatives, enjoy the great outdoors with me.  #NeverHikeWithoutGrandma

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