The consequences of not carrying bear spray

I was out 4K on the Spray River West trail in Banff when I met Pedro. He’s from Spain, and is enjoying a vacation in Banff. His day would have been a lot different if he’d had bear spray with him. 

Pedro from Spain on Spray River West

5K along on Goat Creek, Pedro met a biker. The biker was going uphill on Goat Creek with the intention of going to the trailhead. A few short minutes later, the biker returned and showed Pedro a video of a big bear on the trail behind him. Pedro was too frightened to return to the Goat Creek trailhead so he decided to walk all the way to Banff, catch the Roam bus to Canmore, then take a taxi to the Goat Creek trailhead to get his car. (The biker also continued to Banff). 

Roy and Mark from Netherlands on Spray River West

Pedro was fortunate that he was on a trail that ended at civilization. In most cases on mountain trails, you have to return the same way you came. Chances are the bear was probably gone anyway. I’ve encountered bears twice on Goat Creek/Spray River and both times the bear was more afraid of me than vice-versa.

SkierBob at the Spray River bridge (9.9K from Banff)

In any event, Pedro was smiling and taking the whole adventure good-naturedly, and we had a nice chat. 

Earlier I met Doris from Rapid City, South Dakota. She was by herself but didn’t start out that way. She had lost her hiking partner, Meredith, who had supposedly got lost looking for a trail to the top of Rundle mountain. I encountered Meredith about half-an-hour later at the east-west junction. 

Deer on Spray River West

After stopping in the shade of the shelter at the east-west junction to eat my delicious sandwich from JK Bakery, I continued up Spray River West where I was passed by two young dudes from Netherlands. Roy, Mark and I rode together to the spray bridge where I instructed them to make lots of noise as they were continuing up Goat Creek. Their plan was to return to Banff on the Legacy trail. 

Spectacular views on Spray River West

There were a couple piles of bear scat on the trail, about 1K from the Spray bridge. 

The highlight of my day came as I was heading back to Banff on the Spray River East trail. About 40 metres ahead of me, a doe was nursing her tiny little fawn. I stopped as soon as I saw them, but a mother deer is very wary when she has a fawn, so they took off into the trees. I didn’t even have time to get my camera out. 


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  1. It seems BNP has a new host, Bob.

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