Trail running is the best kind of running, but it is not without its dangers. In addition to self-induced dangers like tripping on rocks and failing to properly hydrate (because you only brought 3 beers on that 15 mile trail run), nature has provided a number of different beasties that the mindful trail runner needs to know about.
Out of the goodrness (ha!) of our hearts , we here at goodr will be posting a series of articles to educate the naive amongst you about best practices to follow when you encounter wildlife on a trail run. If you follow the helpful information below, we can ensure that you will probably still get yourself into trouble with Mother Nature’s various wonders, but you will be much more educated when you do so.
As always, enjoy the trails and stay safe out there!
How You Can Identify ‘em: The two best way to identify a grizzly bear are to either always carry a hardcopy of one of the non-fictional Berenstain Bears Novelas with you or memorize this candid picture of Yogi Bear (with pic-a-nic basket), the most famous of grizzly bears:
One thing to note: these amazingly accurate depictions provided by Hanna-Barbera and the Berenstain Novelas, tend to show grizzly bears in their more formal attire, which was in vogue at the time. Problem is, grizzly bear culture is currently in the midst of a minimalist fashion trend that shuns most every article of clothing, save for a tasteful bolo tie or brooch. Because of this, if you encounter a grizzly bear in the present day, they will almost certainly not be wearing any clothes. Many runners find it hard to picture grizzly bears without clothes, but if you want to be able to differentiate them from bigfoot (or any other large mammal), you need to work on exercising that imagination muscle.
Where You’ll Find ‘em: Grizzly bears are wide ranging and do not heed man-made geographical borders. However, due to the great pic-a-nic basket famine of 1972, you will find them almost exclusively in the Northwest of North America.
The Danger of ‘em: The most dangerous thing about a grizzly is clearly their fashion advice, as it will likely result in you being shunned by your friend group and uninvited from Jessica’s yearly Formal Cocktail Party (which is actually a lot of fun despite the fact that Jessica is kind of a bitch). Apart from that, you will also want to watch out for the teeth and claws, probably.
goodr Advice: Although grizzly bears look ridiculous without their clothes on, do not under any circumstances offend them either by pointing and laughing or by scoffing quietly under your breath. Grizzly bears have an extremely good sense of hearing and are quick to anger when people insult their fashion senses. President Teddy Roosevelt actually lost his right arm after he mockingly teased a grizzly bear’s decision to pair black shoes with a brown suit.
Real Life Advice: If you do encounter a grizzly, consult these tips, as provided by the National Parks Service (as always our helpful notes are in italics):
- Identify yourself by talking calmly so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal. Remain still; stand your ground but slowly wave your arms. Help the bear recognize you as a human. It may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening. (Singing the song “How Soon is Now” by the Smiths is an excellent way of announcing to the grizzly that you are a human and you need to be loved and not eaten.)
- Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second. A scream or sudden movement may trigger an attack. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched squeal. (For this reason, DO NOT sing any Maroon 5 songs to a grizzly; even the hint of Adam Levine’s voice will enrage them.)
- Pick up small children immediately. (Or, and hear us out on this, don’t pick them up and use this opportunity to see if the child has the survival skills necessary to navigate the cold, harsh world. It could save you a lot of wasted effort is all we’re saying.)
- Hike and travel in groups. Groups of people are usually noisier and smellier than a single person. Therefore, bears often become aware of groups of people at greater distances, and because of their cumulative size, groups are also intimidating to bears. (Choreographed dance numbers also help to intimidate grizzlies, as well as sharks and jets)
- Make yourselves look as large as possible, by for example, moving to higher ground. (Also consider doing a few sets of push-ups to get a good pump and then derisively ask the bear if he even lifts.)
- Keep your food out of reach. (If you can.)
Leave the area or take a detour. If this is impossible, wait until the bear moves away. Always leave the bear an escape route. (Or, if you planned ahead like you should have, ignite your jetpack and fly away. Problem solved.)