Monday, August 2, 2010

Read the Signs

          My sister-in-law Holly invited us on two hikes to visit waterfalls local to where she lives. When hiking in grizzly bear country (a.k.a Grande Cache, Alberta, Canada), one should be prepared.
And one should also read the signs carefully. We didn't have any bear spray though. Oh well. No big whoop, eh? Yet as I gazed at this sign I couldn't help thinking this is just like the opening scene of an episode of I Shouldn't be Alive.
          Despite our unpreparedness, the Muskeg Falls were terrific, small but mighty. My niece and daughter moved forward for a closer look, a little too close maybe? Nevertheless, there were no bear encounters, thankfully.

          Later during the weekend, Holly invited us to hike to Twin Falls but en route she was paged to her job at the hospital so she suggested we go on without her. No problem, right? Along with my wife and four kids (hers & ours), we confidently set off seeking adventure, exercise and beauty in the Rocky Mountains. My son and I could probably handle this hike into unknown territory considering that between us we had two years of Junior Forest Warden experience. We're practically boy scouts! After all, we whittled a paddle we've never used, but it looks cool hanging in the shed. And my son recently taught me how to start a ATV. What could go wrong?
          With little difficulty, we found the entrance sign, merely glanced at it and headed up the hill packing plenty of enthusiasm but again no bear spray. Holly told us it would be a quick half a kilometer jaunt. Something seemed wrong though. Was it the sky spitting raindrops? Was it the gunfire we heard somewhere across the ravine? Was it the giant ribcage of a deer/elk/moose/missing person (?) next to the trail?  Was it the plastic grocery bag hanging from the tree that "marked" the trail? I remember thinking, could that contain human remains?
          But of course we ignored our instincts and plodded onward next to a deep, washed-out ravine that sagged at the edges. The word "trail" does not suffice. There was not much marked or beaten about this path. It was more like the impression of a path and as my wife noted with silent consternation, it was completely loaded with many, many varieties of berries. While I imagined where they might find our bodies after we were all axe-murdered she apparently wondered how many bears were currently eating all the delicious berries up the trail around the next bend?
          We were too busy to really discuss our fears with each other though. I was attempting to prevent our 9-year-old niece from careening into the ravine as she trekked ahead of me in her flip-flops. Meanwhile, she was trying to prevent our 8-year-old nephew from jumping into the ravine with curiosity and excitement. (Who knows where our kids were for most of it?) Over a kilometer into the wild we finally decided we were not on the right trail (duh) and convinced the kids to return to the vehicle and although we did not suggest it, we were glad they made as much noise as possible en route back to safety. Other than one chipmunk and the as yet undetermined carcass and bones near the beginning of the "well marked trail," we did not encounter any animals, more specifically, bears.
          Ironically, on our way out, we then resolved to actually read the map/sign at the Twin Falls entrance. Well there's the lesson: read the signs. Why? Look to the bottom right of the photo below. Although some jackass tried to rip the sign off, it does indeed read: Twin Falls Trail Closed. And the fine print below it? Caution: may be unstable when wet.
          Since we never did find the falls, I now like to refer to Twin Falls as the Imaginary Falls or perhaps The-place-where-we-likely-would-have-died-and-no-one-would've-ever-found-our-bodies-if-we-had-continued-onward-along-the-Godforsaken-closed-to-tourists-Twin-Falls-Trail-for-a-mere-five-minutes-more Falls.
          It is a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to die there.


Sultan said...

Next time your group should wear t-shirts with the slogan, "We are not tasty, please do not eat."

Keet said...

Love it. I forgot what jr. forest wardens were until now!
LOL! Glad you survived to tell the tale!

DB Stewart said...

@Laoch of Chicago Good suggestion and I could wear the T-shirt to other functions too, such as to an all-you-can-eat buffet.

@Keet Thanks. Were you in Junior Forest Wardens too? Sometimes JFW was actually quite enjoyable but I always joked with the avid outdoorsmen-type Dads that they were in charge of saving our lives when necessary (but I actually wasn't joking.)

prairiegirl said...

Hey - thanks for stopping on by! :)

Chelle said...

We have our JFW paddle too!

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