The Bear

On a recent hike through the World Heritage Shiretoko National Park, I briefed on what to do if a large brown bear approached.

My intrepid guide said you must stand still and remain calm. I will protect you he said, do not worry. Yeah right, do not worry, remain calm.

Whatever you do don’t run. You will be safe with me he added. Ok, so I was a little bit dubious as to how he wasgoing to defend me. Was he going to sacrifice himself to the bear or what.

I suddenly had visions of a 500kg ball of brown fluff galloping towards me at 30 k’s an hour. With teeth bared and looking decidedly hungry. Oh yes, remain calm and stand still.

Easier said than done I would imagine. No doubt I would pass out. This would be a good thing as bears are not atracted to a prostrate human, or so I have read somewhere.

The sheer beauty of the surrounding forest momentarily took my mind away from thoughts of bear attack.

The sound of leaves falling, plop plop upon the ground conjured up images of a stalking hungry beast.

The guide stopped beside a large tree which had huge scdatch marks on its trunk. Bear scratches he said. Bear marking his territory.

Oh my, we were standing in the bears living room. What if came home?

Would he be happy to have visitors?

My heart was racing at 100 miles an hour , mind in overload at the very thought.

Stop! I told myself. There was no news of any bear attacking in recent times.

Finally I gathered my thoughts and continued on. The beauty of the forest soon took over any thoughts of bears.

Giant maple trees, vibrant red in colour, ginkgo trees with their brilliant yellow leaves aswell as birch and rowan trees in similar colours.

Lots of Sika Deer quietly grazing added to the peacefullness. I saw where woodpeckers pecked their holes,hoping to find insects. A red fox lay basking in the sunshine. Birds sang sweetly in the treetops.

A truly magical experience, all thoughts of bears erased from my mind.

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