I started riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike route on August 11th. The trail starts in Banff, Alberta and loosely follows the continental divide through the Rocky Mountains, ending in Antelope Wells, New Mexico, right at the Mexican border. My plan is to carry on south all the way down through Central and South America, right to the bottom of Argentina. The trip is open ended with no time constraints. I can travel as slow or as fast as I want. It will be a long trip, but this is where it starts.
My first few posts will be a bit hectic as I’ve been traveling for a couple weeks already and haven’t kept very good notes, so I’ll just post some pictures I’ve taken along the way.
Second night of the trip
Just after I had set up my tent for the night and was about to find a tree to hang my food from, I turned around to see two bears not more than 30 feet away from me walking in my direction. My immediate reaction was to grab my camera and quickly switch to my longer zoom lens thinking I’d be able to stay far enough back to get a few wildlife shots. My second, more prudent thought, was to grab my SPOT gps tracking device (a device I had been so reluctant to bring along but had finally relented to after the imploring of my parents) in case I’d have to use the S.O.S. button.
The closer they got, the more I realized I had no idea how to handle a bear encounter. No sudden movements? Don’t look them in the eyes? Certainly don’t run. Could I hop on my bike?
When they got to where I had set up camp, one of them starting biting and rolling one of my panniers around. I had been slowly backing up as much as I could, but he noticed and started following me to the point where he was 4-5 feet in front of me. If he came any closer, I thought I could have kicked him. We stood there for about half a minute until he went back to my tent and, after pushing around my bags some more, stood up on his hind legs and smashed my tent down with his front paws.
There was now a bear standing on my tent, and the worst part of it was? My camera’s battery was dead. I was probably more angry about a dead battery than I was scared about a possible bear attack.
While watching this happen I had been resigning myself to being out a few hundred dollars worth of equipment, so I was pleasantly surprised to find the only damage was some bent tent poles that I (mostly) managed to bend back.