My first BIG solo road trip was last summer. I dropped my kid of at school in Idaho and decided to venture north to Banff, Jasp
er, and Yoho National Parks in Alberta, Canada. It was a bit scary as I tend to dwell on the thought that I will be killed by a bear someday (I blame this irrational fear on my ex) and there were plenty of bear sightings. I know that this is highly unlikely to occur; however, it is still a possibility. Although I try to follow all of the rules of hiking alone, I just cannot make myself be loud enough on the trail (does this surprise most of you?!?!). I also prefer to camp and hike in areas that bears tend to live. I prefer mountains over sand or hills, so do bears. I like trees and shrubbery, so do bears. I like solitude , so do bears- – – This creates the perfect opportunity to meet up with my first (and probably last) bear pal.
During the Canada trip, I not only downloaded “Night of the Grizzlies” (Olsen, Jack 1969) and listened to that, but I also purchased the book “Mark of the Grizzly” (McMilion, Scott 1998). Two books about bear attacks. Did I do this to psyche myself out? I don’t believe this, but I do think I learned a few things from both books. I learned that I am a pretty stupid solo hiker when in the mountains, but that I have always been good about food storage. I also learned that the bears in the campground my last night in Glacier National Park were to be avoided, so I hid in my tent, with my head in my sleeping bag, tightly gripping my bear spray in one hand and knife in the other. They didn’t bother me. I wasn’t scared at all . . . HA!!! Because of this fear, people often wonder why I do not take trips with other people. At best they would be good moral support. At worst, I could trip them while I get away.
In all honesty, I prefer to travel alone. I revel in the solitude of planning, knowing that I can change my plans at any point (e.g. staying an extra night in Vermont because I think it looks pretty). Is this selfish of me? Eh, probably, but right now, I can be selfish. I only have myself to think about (and Charlie). I have traveled often with other people, but find that compromise in these adventures is a bit too difficult for me. Perhaps I haven’t found the “right” travel buddy yet. I don’t mind. I enjoy my own company, especially when I am out on the trail. I come alive listening to the birds, smelling the fresh air, and feeling the burn of my muscles as I struggle up a steep incline. I do not have to worry about holding someone back or feeling as if I am being held back. If I want to camp backwoods, I can. I don’t have to worry that the person I am with is “too scared” or that there are no facilities available or it is too rocky or . . . yada yada yada . . . all the annoyances that I have had to deal with in the past when camping with friends, lovers, or family.
OK, maybe I am selfish. It would not be the first time I have been called that.
I think it is OK though. This selfishness is not hurting anyone, except maybe me.
I really do not have much to say this week, so I will leave you with this — if the last selfie I take happens to be with a bear, please remind my mother of the promise she made me – That picture will be the one shown at my funeral as it will be my greatest accomplishment EVER!
Jasper National Park – August 2017