Tag Archive: wilderness

Despite my many years living in Alberta’s wilderness, I would have considered it a rare privilege to actually have encountered a grizzly bear in the wild. Black bears I have encountered many.

Grizzlies, so near, yet invisible

My first meeting up close with a grizzly had been in a wildlife park during our many travels through the United States and most of its national parks. In the Black Hills of South Dakota, on our way to Mt. Rushmore. [ https://www.bearcountryusa.com/ ]

This was in the summer of 1976, the year of America’s Bi-Centennial celebrations. I had just graduated in December of 1975 from Syracuse University, New York State. And taken the time off to travel extensively that summer with my little boy, eight years old, in our old square back VW van – a really old model. I called it our ‘Hobomobile’, as it served also as our home for many weeks. By Fall of that year we went up north into Canada, before the cold set in. Shortly after we arrived in Alberta in 1976, I got myself work. Then from January 1977 until into the 1990s working in Alberta’s oil industry.

Talking about grizzly bears : –

From 1978 on until the year 2002 I mostly lived by myself – after also my son left for the USA in 1990 do do his graduate studies in Alabama – in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. Surrounded by wild life. Because all those many years I had horses, I also had large pieces of land. Mostly wilderness, treed. After nine years in the Kananaskis country south west of Calgary, during the 1980s, several times with a group of other riders and the horses, we made overnight trips for several days to Two Jack Lake, Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park area. Because this is so high up, this is also prime Grizzly bear country. For several days we camped out in large Army tents, the entire compound surrounded by electrified barb wire, against bear visits.

[ https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/grizzly-bear-ly-misses-hiker-after-charge-forcing-closures-in-banff-national-park ][ https://globalnews.ca/news/4255044/hiker-charged-grizzly-lake-minnewanka-banff/ ]

During those years I also had 160 acres of bare land far outside West of Cochrane, (north up Forestry Trunk Road, north of the (today Ghost River Dam area)). [ https://www.cottageclub.ca/history ]. This was so far out, surrounded by miles of Crown land, that there were no real neighbours. I made very many rides with my horses alone in this wilderness area high up in the Rocky Mountain Foothills, but never once came face to face with a grizzly bear. They are there, they can hear you, they can smell you. I can see traces of them. Besides that rarely would any bear or wolf or any wild animals attack a human, when going out alone in those areas, always make some noise, make yourself heard. This 160 acres by the way was close to the Stoney Indian Reserve. [ http://www.rockymountainnakoda.com/our-lands ]. My most precious book: These Mountains are our Sacred Places. The Story of the Stoney People. 1977. By Chief John Snow, of the Wesley Band.

Back to grizzly bears.

From 1994 until the year 2000 my land with my home and horses on 80 acres was even more remote, north west of Cochrane, Alberta, a wilderness where the nearest little town was Water Valley, Alberta. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Valley,_Alberta ]

Surrounded by hundreds of acres of Crown land. Often during those years I had to visit a saw mill somewhere in the middle of nowhere to pick up my rails for making my horse fences. There were no roads. This could only be done by a heavy 4×4 truck.

One day I drove in to see that guy who operated the mill. On my way in, a couple of guys in a truck came out, white as sheets in their faces. I thought they saw a ghost. They told me that there is a grizzly bear who had taken down a cow and still in there, feeding.

I drove on, passing by some yellow Dept. Forestry tape – WARNING BEAR – then on to the sawmill. No one there. Pretty eerie. Again the bear nearby, but not visible.

That’s as much as goes for grizzly bears. They are there, but cannot be seen. If you run into one unexpected, though, you better be careful !

Since 2002 residing in British Columbia, where Grizzlies and their sub-species – the Pacific Rain Forest white Spirit Bear – can hopefully be seen by sailing up the BC coast north Vancouver Island. Which I did in 2014, stopping various times during the sailing thru the Johnson strait. One of my videos during a storm [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIVhEkGRiN8 ] . Grizzlies hunting for salmon – we did not see. [ https://renataveritashistory.com/2014/10/25/adventure-sailing-trip-northern-vancouver-island/ ].

NOTES. Links to earlier articles on grizzly bear hunt.

[ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/grizzly-bears-overhunted-in-b-c-say-researchers-1.2417306 ] .

otherwise. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/grizzly-bear-kill-limits-being-broken-across-bc-study-says/article15301716/ ]


During the many years living in Alberta’s wilderness outside of the big cities of Calgary and Edmonton, along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains NW of Calgary, I have encountered situations which to most city dwellers may seem frightening.
(This post continued from my last post – on Encounters with Grizzly Bears [ https://renataveritashistory.com/2014/05/29/alberta-wilderness-stories/ ]).

With our horses we went from Alberta in the Foothills West of Calgary across the mountains towards Jack Lake. [ http://www.albertawow.com/campgrounds/Two_Jack_Lake/Two_Jack_Lake.htm ].
It was a long hike across steep terrain. Near the Two Jack Lake campgrounds, there were also sites specifically set up for horses and riders to overnight in big green armee tents. Upon arrival, I noticed that the entire site had been enclosed with high razor wire. Which during the night was electrified. We stayed three nights in those tents.
At that time nothing particular happened, but the ever present danger of Grizzly Bears in the vicinity could not be overlooked. That was mainly what this fencing was about.
From there after three days back to home – the horses in trailers. My little Q.Horse gelding was one to not load easily. Three guys were needed to coax him into the trailer. Poor thing !
(NOTE. Did not take a camera at that time – but offer a video of another trail ride NW towards Banff, organized by my friends of the Bar C Ranch, then good old Lester B., owner. Bar C today became a big resort [ http://www.bar-c.com/barc/home.html ] )

Grizzlies are scary in a sense, because they are unpredictable and large enough to take
down a cow. Which they often do. But more caution should be given to the big cats, like the cougar. On my 80-acre ranch NW of Calgary in the Foothills, I did have – apart from my resident moose cow – the occasional cougar. Hiding in those enormous wood piles left behind by the loggers. (Next post – the logging operations). Meanwhile news of a “cougar shooting” right here in our neck of the woods: [ https://renataveritashistory.com/2014/06/03/they-shot-a-cougar-vancouver-island/ ]

Alberta Wilderness Stories

During the many years living in Alberta’s wilderness outside of the big cities of Calgary and Edmonton, along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains NW of Calgary, I have encountered situations which to most city dwellers may seem frightening.
During the years I worked on my 80-acre ranch with my horses, building barns and rail fences. Adjacent to my acreage was crown land, miles of it, leased out as grazing land to the big ranchers for their cows. Somewhere in the midst of all that wilderness – grass and many trees – was that saw mill. I often went to the saw mill to get rough cut lumber, using my 3/4 ton 4-wheel drive Dodge truck. There were no roads, only rough rutted trails. One day driving in there, a smaller truck came out towards me, two men sitting in it, cheesy-white in their faces, obviously scared of something they encountered in the vicinity of that saw mill. Indeed – when I came closer I saw the yellow warning tapes from Alberta Wildlife around a larger area (grizzly bear), right close to the saw mill. I drove on to see the saw mill guy. He was not around. Obviously because of the grizzly bear warning. Later I read up on this in one of the local papers. A grizzly had taken down a cow. Scary ? well, not really. Just always be careful and do not aggravate such large wild animals without first announcing your presence. In that case, though, being a big bear feeding, an even more careful approach is needed.
[More stories, next time around.]