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Rope Swings & Black Bears: Adventures in Whistler, Canada

September 21st, 2006 by Jason · 1 Comment

Being recently jobless and having just moved to Seattle we decided what better way to wind down from a month of moving intensity by heading up to British Columbia for a two and a half week camping road trip. Below is an essay from one of the days. Some pictures of our trip are here.

Looking Out at the SwingThe clouds were low and grey, but not too heavy. It was drizzling, but I was still intent on carrying through with my plan of mountain biking some of Whistler’s incredible trails. To that end I had Nance drop me off about five klics (as they say in Canadian) outside of Whistler at a trail I had seen others riding the day before. I started off with gusto, pumping my legs furiously to get up the hill, but I quickly slowed and then petered to a halt when a softball-sized rock blocked my tire.

My dreams of charging the hill over I started hiking my bike further up the trail. My initial enthusiasm for the great outdoors waned a bit as the stillness and heavy silence of the forest crept in on me. The thick layer of old pine needles and the green moss that covered just about everything on the ground muffled any sound. The trees were tall, the trail skinny, and my lonesome bike and I even skinnier. Unbidden, I started thinking of the many signs I had seen in town warning of bears and the factoid I had read in the guide book: “British Columbia has a quarter of all the black bears and half the Grizzlies in Canada.” Great. And I had forgotten my bear bell. So I did the only thing I could: I sang, and sang, and sang. One bumpy song after the next.

As I was nearing my fiftieth rendition of “Do Lord” (one of my favorite spirituals) I rounded a bend and found myself peering out through the trees to a small lake. I stopped singing and halted to enjoy the view. As Murphy’s law would have predicted thirty seconds into my respite I saw a black, behemoth-sized bear barelling through the forest in my direction. My heart quickly began marching at salsa tempo and a good gallon of adrenaline was sent coursing through my veins. I dropped my bike and was about to run and jump in the lake (A fabulous plan, I know. I suppose I figured the freezing water would numb the pain of being eaten) when my brain registered an odd fact about this bear. It had a tail. Sure enough, a second later a great black dog bounded past me and charged into the lake.

I thanked the owner (who came up shortly with what I swear was a bit of a grin) for the roller-coaster sized scare and he in turn mentioned a rope swing on the far side of the lake. (I should note here that i really like rope swings; every time I’m by a river or lake I dream of what it would be lake if only there were a rope swing.) Turns out this particular rope swing was primo. One that, if done right, would fling me out at least 30 feet above the lake. It even had a sort of gang-plank that had been built into the side of the hill off of which to lauch. I debated for a few seconds if I should take the plunge; it was cold, lightly raining, I had no towel, and I still had several klics to ride. But it was also the best rope swing I had ever seen.

I quickly threw off all hindrances (i.e. clothes) and walked the plank. I stood there a while feeling my heart beat (slower now that the “bear” was happily paddling after a stick) and wondering just how cold the water would be. I tensed up, curled my toes over the edge, debated a bit more with myself, and finally…launched. Letting out a whoop as my moon-white bottom half zipped just above the bushes I ascended high out over the green water. At the peak of the arch I let go, plumetted into the water, and then floundered quickly back to shore. I scrambled up the hill and did two more magnificent swing-outs before getting back on my bike and starting up another round of “Do Lord.”

Tags: life

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Stacy // Sep 27, 2006 at 1:53 pm

    that is one of the best stories I’ve read in a while! Good times J! I can just imagine Nance’s face :)