Bear with me!

There are some fears, rational or otherwise, that intrude into even the most pleasant of experiences. We’re back on the Bruce Trail again in our quest to complete the full, just under 1,000 kms, length. My hiking partner Cheryl and I are relishing it over 4 years… which is just another way of saying that we’re not speed hikers. It also means that this is our 3rd Spring with all the fantastic, re-emerging life that we get to witness. The rocky escarpment floor and naked deciduous trees, just before they sprout leaves, have a stark beauty all their own.

Where are we??

Now this is forested Ontario so that includes great big bears and Cheryl is always on the lookout for them. She declares every crevice or cave we pass probably houses one…

Another bear cave

We’ve been known to blow whistles, carry bells or just talk loudly so we don’t surprise a sleepy, hungry, just awakening bear along the way.

Here I’m descending yet another ladder but more importantly, can you see what that is peaking out of my backpack?

another ladder


Guess what?







For those of you who guessed bear spray – full marks…Although apparently you have to get in really close and spray in the eyes for it to do any good so I think it just makes us feel better.

For the record, talking loudly and a lot, seems to be what we excel at and so far we haven’t met a bear!

We’ve seen interesting signs of other creatures from square shaped holes left by woodpeckers, to tree bark chewed by hungry winter deer.

Woodpecker holes

Teeth marks

We’ve seen bear scat and heard odd grunts, that didn’t come from either of us, but so far at least the trail has been bear free. But we know they’re there and, of course, now that we’re getting further north… Our heartfelt wish however, is to complete this trail without seeing a single one.

On a more serious note, our Province has inexplicably authorized a spring bear hunt for the first time since 1999. Even many hunters are opposed to killing bears at a time when they’re having cubs. This statement on the side of a shed I’ve passed for years, explains just how I feel about that idea!

Bear as hunter

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69 Responses to Bear with me!

  1. Lovely article, let us know once you meet a bear, take some photos! Following!

  2. badfish says:

    great post. I was stupid once in Yellowstone…walked near a bear…who didn’t like me following him to the trash can where his dinner was lurking, so he stood up on his hind legs, roared. I quickly ducked into the rest room (it was the women’s)!

  3. Gallivanta says:

    Do hope your hiking remains bear free. I wonder if hunters are tastier in spring? A pity the bears can’t tell us..

  4. hermitsdoor says:

    We have had our own encounters with a bear recently.
    In our region of the Appalachian Mountians, they come down from their rocky home in Spring looking for food and establishing territories. Does the Spring bear hunt have any restrictions, such as only killing solitary bears? These would more likely be boars or yearlings, rather than sows with cubs. Bear hunting does not attract the casual urban/suburban hunter. Bear hunting is serious business with a respectful risk of one’s bear dogs or self getting injured or killed. All the bear hunters whom I know understand this and also talk about carefully identifying boars and yearlings for hunting, not sows.

  5. Sartenada says:

    Wow, what hiking! Awesome photos to be admired. Biggest animal in the nature, which I have ever seen, is elk. 🙂 Thank You for this interesting post.

  6. You are intrepid women. What a hike that must be. I wonder what’s behind the province’s action? It seems strange.

    • Thanks for your visit – hard to understand why the Province authorized a hunt although they did mention American hunter tourism in their press release – as if that’s a good thing.

  7. I have the exact same concern about bears, Carol. Although we’ve camped and hiked for years, our bear sightings have been few and far between. Whew! Of course James, the tall lanky one, always jokes, “i don’t have to outrun the bear – I just have to outrun you!” What a comedian.

    BTW, you may have noticed that things have been quiet at Gallivance. Our travels have been (temporarily) suspended because I blew out my knee and recently had to have total knee replacement surgery. Not fun, but I’m working hard on recovery. We haven’t forgotten about our friends and want things to get back to normal. James and I are looking forward to catching up with you and finding out what you’ve been up to. In the meantime, thanks for continuing to follow along.

    All the best, Terri

    • I hope the knee heals quickly and if your experience is anything like my husbands it will then be better than new😕. Then you’ll probably be able to outrun James whether it’s bears or alligators!

  8. Nancy says:

    No Bears For You!!
    Great captures of a pretty place!
    Keep on Keepin ‘ On with the trail!

  9. Denzil says:

    I’d love to see a wild bear … from a distance, through binoculars, across the valley, with a wide valley between us! Stay safe!

    • Exactly the sighting we’d like! Once, out with friends we saw a bear cub and immediately went the other way to avoid the protective momma who’d be close by.

  10. Lavinia Ross says:

    May your bears, and hikers, stay safe. Sorry to hear about the bear hunt. Good to hear from you again, and see the Bruce trail. Perhaps you will see the gnome again sometime. 🙂

  11. How nice to be hiking again with your friend. And good to know you are being careful. Those seers must have been hungry. I find it sad to think bears are being hunted ..

  12. I felt so envious last year when you were writing about this fabulous hike and posting those lovely photos. I hadn’t thought of bears. I’d need to be with someone experienced to know how to react. I can imagine how grumpy I would wake up if I hadn’t eaten for six months. I hope you have a wonderful hiking season and don’t encounter any of them.

    • Thank you for you good wishes and no a grumpy bear is not something we’d like to meet even though someone commented ‘think of the blog opportunity’ !

  13. Sheryl says:

    I can remember some of your previous posts when you hiked other sections of Bruce Trail. It’s wonderful that you are continuing in your quest to complete this trial. I continue to be awed by how beautiful this trail is (and I hadn’t realized how rugged some sections of Ontario are until I saw these photos).

    • We’re determined to try and finish even though it does get difficult sometimes to find the time…each time we do hike though we’re reminded how glorious the Bruce Trail is! Thanks for your supportive comments.

  14. mommermom says:

    Wow! An impressive journey. I hate when we go camping in bear territory for fear of running into one! (Of course I also hate running into snakes). I do the stomping my feet and talking to keep them away too!

    • Thank you and we’re enjoying taking our time in true ‘it’s the journey not the destination’, style. I guess it’s perfectly natural for us to be nervous of creatures in the wild even if they have a lot more to fear from us.

  15. Gunta says:

    The closest I’ve come to a bear was when a small cub (perhaps a year old) rolled down a steep hill onto the road in front of our van and just as suddenly kept rolling farther on down the other side. I was thrilled, but too surprised to grab the camera. I’m still thrilled every time I think about that occasion, but don’t know what I might have done had I been out walking. I have to agree with the other commenters that it sounds like you’re doing all the right things.

  16. joannesisco says:

    There are bears along the Bruce Trail?!!

    Helen had assured me that there were no bears and I blissfully hiked the entire trail without a care in the world … well, until we got into rattlesnake territory. There I was poking around into crevices … sometimes ignorance is bliss. at least until a bear is encountered :/

    When we headed east however on the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail, I was uber sensitive to bears and on a few occasions was more than a little nervous when we encountered fresh bear tracks!! I understand your concern.

    • Hmm – your hiking friend Helen and my hiking friend Cheryl have a lot in common. Cheryl once assured me an appetizer was vegetarian and when I spat it out she declared, ‘ I didn’t know liver pate was meat!’ Very glad to hear you saw no signs of bear on the Bruce Trail – gives us hope!

      • joannesisco says:

        LOL!! Oh Cheryl got you good!!

        We saw deer, raccoons, porcupines, snakes (way too many of those!!), rabbits … but not a single hint of a bear. I think you’re safe 🙂

  17. Hazel says:

    Looks like a nice hike! I enjoyed your post and totally understand your fear. I moved to Vancouver Island recently and I’ve seen more bear here than I eve have before. I am not very experienced at hiking in bear country. I just had my first grizzly sighting on a trip to Jasper recently, and I want to tell you you are doing all the right things! Make noise and be alert and good job having the bear spray. In all likelihood if you’re doing the right things and don’t startle a bear you should be fine even if you do see one. I feel facing my fear has actually made me feel more confident. Best of luck on your future hikes! 🙂

    • Thanks for your comments! It’s good to have confirmation from bear country that we’re taking the right evasion tactics. The trail is a wonder and we owe so much to the folks who over the years have fought to preserve this strip of wilderness in Ontario – for us and the bears!

      • Hazel says:

        I’m no expert, but I just follow the advised rules for bear country and that’s what you’re doing too! 🙂 I’m so glad the park is there. I grew up in the east and I think I only ever saw a bear twice. There’s so little good, natural habitat left for them unfortunately but its great to see some parcels being saved.

  18. GP Cox says:

    Good to see you back – we missed you!!

  19. pommepal says:

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you and hope you don’t meet any bears. It would spoil a good days walk…

  20. Denis1950 says:

    Great photos and much teaching in the stories. You hone in on the same problem we have here. Politicians allow psychopaths with guns the legal right to have a killing season. Here in Victoria Australia its ducks right now, but also at times wild dogs, deer and even wild horses, (brumbies). The root cause problem however is always people.

  21. agnesashe says:

    You sound informed and respectful of ol’ Mother Nature and her ways. I see from your fascinating photos you appreciate sharing the woods, but I agree you don’t want to bump into a bear. I’m guessing they wake from hibernation a bit peckish. Why are the authorities allowing a bear hunt? Is about land resources?

    • The reasons for the Spring bear hunt are weak. First an increase in human-bear encounters as we encroach on their territory and secondly tourism dollars. In the U.S. There is a taste for leaner Spring bear meat😕and from Europe and Asia they are after the hides😢.

      • agnesashe says:

        Oh my goodness – that’s all horrible. Meat/hides/money is no justification 😡 and human-bear encounters should surely mean keep the humans properly educated or away from the bear territory altogether.

  22. Sue Slaght says:

    Glad to hear you have the bear spray. We carry it here when hiking. I always think it would come down to being rational enough to think to pull it out! Best of luck with your quest on the trail. What a fabulous adventure.

  23. This post made me giggle at your constant loud talking – but not grunting! I follow a blogger from Florida who was complaining that the number of bears that could be hunted/killed had been raised. What’s going on?
    Enjoy your hikes this year – I look forward to the next instalment!

  24. restlessjo says:

    Hear! Hear! No hiding place with cubs has to be bad news
    Have fun but take good care xx

  25. What a great adventure! I hope you don’t have to test out the bear spray, although a close encounter would make for excellent blog-fodder. 😀

  26. margaret21 says:

    What adventures you’re having. Thanks for telling us all about them.

  27. Thanks for bringing people’s attention to the Spring Bear hunt in Ontario which makes no sense . Even hunters agree! Can’t wait to get back on the trail as our next hike will be in early summer and the landscape will have changed once again.

  28. Jane Armstrong says:

    Have been ‘living’ with bears for several years now – in the woods, on the streets, and you are doing all the recommended actions — noise, bells, so that you don’t startle them is so important and yup bear spray – looks spectacular

    • It is a great hike Jane and while it may not be as spectacular as some parts of BC it’s wonderful to have it in our backyard. Thanks for you confirmation on our bear avoidance tactics😉

  29. Bears are to be taken seriously, so I understand your need to make noise and have a bear spray at close hands. But it’s sad that bear hunting has become legal at this time. Nevertheless it seems like you are doing a great hike. 🙂

    • The hike is amazing Otto and right here in the region where we live. It is really disappointing to have the bear hunt again and even worse that it’s in the Spring and they allow baiting for these hungry creatures.

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