Sometimes life can take a very unexpected turn and give you quite the scare. If you have read our running guide for beginners, you know that my running passion began when I was living in Torrance, Ontario. This is a very small town that is surrounded by beautiful landscapes and an abundance of wildlife. When I moved up in the fall to work as an outdoor educator, I was warned by those on our site to be careful at dusk and dawn (even at night) for black bears because they enjoyed exploring our site. They provided us with tips on how to deal with these encounters and stay safe in our natural environment.
I had come in contact with the same momma bear and three cubs on our site, many nights in a row. However, with every occurrence, I was either sitting in my car or watching safely from my cabin. Therefore, I could enjoy their beauty but also not be viewed as a threat to this protective momma bear. I was very cautious in the fall about the times I would venture out on runs because there was not only that bear family in the area but many others that would often be seen on the trails and roads during dusk and dawn. However in the summer time, I was driving a lot during the day and would get back on site at these not so ideal times. Therefore, leaving me to venture out on my runs when others didn’t dare do. I never ran with headphones on because I loved hearing my surroundings and found it to be very calming.
One evening, I went out for my run as usual and as I made a turn down one road, I began to hear the forest beside me shaking so loudly that it almost made the ground below me feel like it was trembling. I had found out a couple weeks ago that someone had killed the momma bear to the three cubs that I would see all the time in the fall. Locals in the area warned us that the cubs have been getting pretty close to those in the area and to be cautious because their behaviour is not predictable. I did not expect to be the next person to experience how close they would really get.
I continued on my run and whatever was in the forest beside me just got closer and louder. I looked above and had a turkey vulture circling me. All I could think was this guy knows something I don’t and it’s likely not very good. I stopped in my tracks because I was so distracted and could not think of what my next move should be. As I did this, whatever was stalking me in the woods, did as well. Within a split second later, not one but three of the black bear cubs jumped in the road, right in front of me. They were literally five feet away and I could feel their breath on me. Now this is the point in my life where I thought, this is it…this is how I go. Also, made me think about how I should have listened to my mom when she told me not to run at night and that if I do survive this, I will need to wait years to tell her this story, so she doesn’t try to kill me herself haha. I literally stood dead still and everything I was told to do when encountering a bear, went out the window. I was lost for words and actions apparently too. They crept a foot closer and I backed up a foot while still keeping eye contact. Miraculously at this moment, I heard a car honking behind me (I don’t even remember hearing a car drive down the dirt road) and a woman yelling for me to jump inside. Without hesitation, I ran to her car and jumped in her backseat. She was panting in shock and was like I thought those were your dogs from a far, then realized what they really were and rushed over to help. I know they say don’t get into cars with strangers but at this time, I could not be more thankful for this very kind stranger, who came to my rescue. She drove me back to site and we parted ways. I must have thanked her a hundred times over. As I walked up my path, dramatically retelling my story, one of my friends was like at least you got your heart rate up without having to actually do the work out. He was definitely right about that.
There are moments in your life, where you experience something that opens your eyes to the kindness around you. This woman who came rushing to help me, did not have to do so. She could have turned a blind eye and continued on her way and she did not have to take a second look to make sure that those were in fact bears and not very large dogs. It is people like her that help restore faith in others. After everything she did, she did not even tell me her name and did not expect anything in return. It really does bring home the saying that you will never regret being kind or regret others kindness towards you.