Be Bear Aware

What a crazy moment we’re living through. And here in Manitoba, it was even more difficult for me as we had to close down all the trails below the 53rd parallel due to extreme fire hazard. But glory be to God, we got rain! So, my Presbytera and I were able to hike in Whiteshell Provincial Park – and we even had an up-close black bear encounter.

Of course, I had my bear spray; thankfully, I didn’t need to use it. On that trail, I saw no one else with bear spray and considering the time of year it is, that’s just going out unprepared.

These lockdowns and violations of our Charter Rights and Freedoms have made getting out and into nature so much more therapeutic for me. Last October, we camped and hiked in Riding Mountain National Park, and we went there again in February and stayed in some accommodations in the extreme cold. Tomorrow we head back to camp at Lake Audy – much needed.

The trees, wildlife, lakes, and trails touch me deep within. The wilderness – and especially Canada’s National Parks – are beautiful beyond accurate description. Nature is a great teacher that reveals the artificiality of our modern life. The smells awaken the soul and, feeling the wind on your skin – whether atop a mountain in BC or Alberta, or just a high hill in Manitoba, energizes and uplifts the human spirit.

In high school English class, I remember being taught about three literary conflicts, man vs man, man vs himself, and man vs nature. I think there is a fourth, man vs society. Heading out into nature, depending on the activity, is one or more of those. But still, no matter what the adventure, when I’m out there, I look around and think of Psalm 103. I can’t hardly wait to be out in Riding Mountain National Park this weekend, and if you’ve never been, I suggest you go – but don’t forget your bear spray.

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