23-May-2011 -- I stayed in Vancouver BC to attend the IARS 2011 annual meeting and present results of our team on the Sunday, 22 May session. I allowed me a few days more to visit both British Columbia and Washington state with my wife Antonella. This was a perfect occasion to make some tries on CP in the Northwestern area. The story begins at 48°N 122°W, then goes through 50°N 123°W and 49°N 124°W and ends at 48°N 123°W.
We thought that 50°N 123°W would be the most unlikely CP to reach during our stay in late winter season. Well we were right and failed that one! The initial reason for trying that particular CP was that we wanted to have a look on the unique shape of “The Black Tusk” (2319 m) which overlooks lake Garibaldi. According to our experience in the French Alpes, hiking at 2000 meters of altitude during the last week of May depends on the amount of remaining snow. But on the 50th parallel, things are very different.
On Monday, 23 May we reached the parking lot (GPS picture) where the Garibaldi trail begins and started on the trail. Our plan was to leave Garibaldi lake on the south and reach Helm creek trail until it crosses the 123° West meridian and then go straight north until the CP.
On Garibaldi trail, we hit snow after only 3 km of walking and 1 km later we met a couple of hikers going down. They went for a snowshoe hike with an overnight camp in the snow and were heavily equipped for that. They told us that Garibaldi trail was completely under soft and high snow and that there was no chance to go through with the light gear that we were wearing. Walking any further would be at least unsafe and we gave up our try. We went back to our car through the wonderful forest and took our time to admire the wild orchids we could discover.
Back to our car, we decided to visit Whistler and Green Lake and that is where we had our biggest surprise of our whole stay. Just after parking our car on the road side near Green lake we had the surprise to find out that we parked less than 50 meters of a black bear strolling along the road (bear 1). That bear was absolutely placid and didn’t run when he saw me. I was able to approach him as close as 10 meters to take a few pictures while he went on grazing.
We spent the next 30 minutes in our car talking about bears and the reason for them to come out of the forest cover in full day time showing no concerns about human presence and activity. And suddenly we saw two other bears! They were less confident and I couldn’t make it less than 100 meters of the closest to picture him (bear 2). I never heard of such a behavior in Black Bears previously and couldn’t find any explanation yet. Is this behavior seasonal? Is it related to the reduction of natural habitat? Are bears more and more familiar with humans to the point of sharing space like deers or badgers can do ?
Another bear can be approached much more closer at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver.
All in all, the bear encounters relieved us from our CP failure and made that day unforgettable.