Thursday, May 15, 2014

Home Again

The drive home from my mom's was uneventful, which is always the best kind of drive to have. I finished listening to Louise Penny's book A Fatal Grace as I made my way across Washington State, which killed two birds with one stone. (Has this become a politically incorrect expression?) First of all, it helped pass the time during the seven and a half hour trip. Secondly, it got me caught up in the Chief Inspector Gamache Re-Read.

Yesterday was spent playing catch-up. It's one of life's great mysteries to me how I can go away for five days and have it take two days to get caught up on things when I get home. In the afternoon I decided to go hike Teapot Hill. It's a good workout, and I decided I could spare the hour it takes to do the walk. It was quite a surprise to be greeted by a new sign at the start of the trail.


Residents of BC tend to develop an immunity to bear warning signs. We frequently see generic signs warning us bears populate the same places we do. The rough translation of those signs is "there could be bears here, so be on the lookout." That isn't what this sign means. This one is saying "there is a bear here." I looked around the parking lot and saw quite a few other vehicles, so decided it would be fine. However, I did make a mental note to bring my walking stick the next time I came.

About halfway up the hill I was happy to spot a new teapot.


I continued on for another five or ten minutes and was just about to get to the last steep bit of trail before reaching the top, when two young women came running down the trail. Their eyes were huge, and they were doing that nervous, semi-hysterical kind of laugh that happens after a near miss. They said they had heard a noise in the bush next to them and thought it was a large dog. It started running at them and that's when they realized it wasn't a dog - it was the bear!

Here's the pathetic part of this story. They hurried on down the trail, while I stood there for several minutes weighing out my options. Should I or shouldn't I? I had spent much of the past five days sitting in my vehicle and/or sitting in my mom's apartment. I'm not very good at sitting, and had really been looking forward to the workout I get at the last bit of the trail. The part I was just approaching. The part with the bear. In the end common sense won out, but only just barely. I turned around and headed back down. I'll wait until next week to go back. By then the bear will have moved on, either on its own or with some help from a conservation officer.

I'm happy to report that on the knitting front I am sticking to my pledge to only knit plain vanilla socks.

I love Opal self-patterning yarn, and when I look at these I wonder why I even bother knitting socks with complicated patterns when the yarn can do all the work for me!

43 comments:

  1. Cool socks! Was it a grizzly bear? Here we only have black bears, which can still be dangerous, but usually they're not out to get you. I hear other stories about grizzlies and would NOT want to ever meet one in the woods. I don't even want to meet a black bear when hiking and with no protection. I'm actually glad you turned around because I thought this story was going to end very differently ;) Wendy x

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    1. No, it wasn't a grizzly Wendy! I wouldn't have hesitated if it had been a grizzly. I would have been running down the trail ahead of those scared girls! You are right. Black bears can be quite dangerous too. Just last week a woman was killed by one in northern Alberta.

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  2. Oh my goodness what a story, I think I would have turned around really fast and headed down the mountain, love your socks.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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    1. I just needed a few minutes to think about it, but came to the same conclusion as you. Down was the right direction to go!

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  3. Great socks, scary story! Do you carry a whistle or some other noise-making device? There are black bears in our neighbourhood, but we haven't actually seen one yet. The largest specimen of wildlife so far, besides the ever-present deer and wild turkeys, has been a porcupine in a tree not far from the house - making me glad that we don't (yet) have a dog. -- Ruth

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    1. A dog might not be a good mix with porcupines, but they are very handy to have around if you live in bear country. Well, except for Fergus. I'm quite sure he would turn and run if he saw a bear, leaving me to face it on my own. He's a bit of a coward. :-)

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    2. My DH is working for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and is forever bringing home interesting stories about wildlife from the biologists in his building. One story involved a black bear mauling a woman who was out walking with her two German Shepherds. The dogs did try to fight the bear off but it was thought possible that they were the reason the bear attacked in the first place, because apparently bears really hate dogs.
      Fortunately the woman was not seriously hurt, and neither were the dogs - but it was nervous-making just to hear about the incident, even though it happened a long way from where we live. At least porcupines don't charge up to their victims - they just wait for some dumb dog to stick its nose a little too close!

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    3. That's a scary story! Bears do hate dogs, and will usually take off when they come across one. There must have been something about the dogs that made the bear feel threatened. That's the thing that makes bears so dangerous - they can be unpredictable. 99% of the time a bear will turn and run away if it encounters a human. But there's that 1% where it does the unexpected.

      When I was growing up my dog was constantly getting a snout full of porcupine quills. I couldn't understand why she couldn't figure it out, and kept going back for another fight.

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  4. Loving the socks, they are a great colour not plain at all (-;

    Close encounter with a bear, you did the right thing, what would they tell Lucy?

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    1. Isn't that Opal yarn the greatest stuff? And by plain, I mean socks that I just knit around and around without having to do any thinking. If I can knit them and read at the same time they qualify.

      Even if I had run into the bear it probably wouldn't have done anything. Usually they are more afraid of us than we are of them. But not always. Last week a woman in northern Alberta was killed by a black bear.

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  5. I know what you mean about being so disappointed at not being able to complete your walk that you hesitated...you can look forward to something so much that it seems to take you over.
    I think those socks are just spiffing!

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    1. You're right, Helen. I guess that's how so many people end up doing things like skiing when the avalanche risk is high, or going out in a boat even though the weather is getting bad. The looking forward to something takes over and common sense goes out the window. Thanks for the compliment about the socks. :-)

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  6. Ha, ha, ha...common sense only just "barely" won out?! We had a black bear in our garbage one morning during daylight hours and we live in a populated area. I don't think I'd be scared of it on my own turf, but on his, maybe not so brave. You never know if their babies are nearby and you know how us mommas can be when our young involved. Good call on your part. I'd hate for your Blog to bite the dust! Or be bitten in this case.

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    1. It's a funny thing, but the bear on your turf is probably much more dangerous than the one in the woods. If they are on your turf that means they are used to people, and that's when they get dangerous. Along with when, as you point out, they have their cubs to watch out for. I don't think this one has cubs though. I think it is probably a young bear that hasn't quite figured things out yet. It's very kind of you to say you would hate to see my blog bite the dust though! :-)

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  7. I'm already on a sock kick and now I find I must seek out this "self-patterning" yarn of which you speak... :-)

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    1. Simply Socks carries Opal yarn. It makes great gift yarn, Lisa, because you can throw it in the washing machine and not have it suffer too much. Always a must if knitting socks for a non-knitter. :-)

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  8. I understand what you mean by vanilla, but I don't believe you've ever knit anything plain.
    Bears...we hear stories about them appearing once in a great while in the northwestern parts of Virginia and Maryland and we've gotten the occasional warning from park rangers, but we've never seen one in the wild. I'm very glad you didn't see that one, one-on-one. I have complete faith in your common sense, but really hope it doesn't face any more situations involving things that can eat you.

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    1. Thank you for having faith in my common sense, Rick, but I think it might be misplaced. I have encountered bears on several occasions in my life, and the outcome has always been that the bear turns and runs away. Maybe that fact has given me too much confidence. I do have to say though that if we had grizzlies in our area I never would have started up the hill in the first place. So maybe I do have a smidgen of common sense after all. :-)

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  9. I'm gulag you didn't run into the bear, love the look of your socks.

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    1. Thank you Green Thumb! I have put the socks away in my woollen chest, and am looking forward to pulling them out and wearing them in the fall.

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  10. Audiobooks are a great way to make a car journey shorter. I am so glad that the wildest creature we have around here are bumble bees, although of course there are some vicious dogs with villain dog owners, too. But these don't tend to walk along the rivers and woods at least, they are city dwellers. I love your socks! I just posted my May sock, linking back to you, because I have used a self striping yarn you recommended. Funny, I prefer socks with a pattern. We could do a swap one day. Have a great (bear free) weekend. xx

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    1. Vicious dogs are much scarier than bears. They are unpredictable, and way more apt to attack than a bear. In fact, the only animal that I have ever had go after me when I was out hiking was a large dog.

      I'm glad you liked the Mind the Gap yarn. It's a lot of fun to knit. A swap sounds like a good idea!

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  11. Oh that is so funny about the bear!! I would probably either not have started the trail and gone somewhere else or would have been hotfooting it down the hill behind the two other people!! I am not sure of the significance of the teapot, I have obviously not been paying attention. Can you enlighten me as I am intrigued! Love your new socks, they are not plain vanilla at all, but they are gorgeous! xx

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    1. The trail is in Cultus Lake Provincial Park, and is called Teapot Hill because many years ago someone found an old broken teapot at the top. The name stuck, as did the idea of having teapots. Now people leave teapots hidden at the side of the trail for people to try and spot on their way up. The Parks people keep clearing them out, but just as fast as they take one, two more are there to replace it. It's fun to try and find new ones when I'm out on the trail!

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  12. I was on horseback when my friend said there was a bear sighting last week in that very spot. I'll be extra vigilant, but really, the horse will do that for me, I'm sure. I just need to be prepared for the turn and run! I'm with you on plain vanilla socks. I shape the back of the leg a bit so they stay up and that's it. Also, nothing wears like those German sock yarns. The indie stuff is pretty and soft, but I still have some Opal socks I made 10 years ago. (Darned several times, but still....)

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    1. I don't know if I would want to be on a horse and encounter a bear. Like you say, the trick would be to stay seated when the horse did a u-turn! You are so right about the German sock yarn. It wears and wears and wears. I have a couple pairs of socks I knit with Opal many years ago that I am quite tired of, but they are still in perfect shape and I don't have the heart to get rid of them. They have become gardening socks. :-)

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  13. Oh my goodness, I can't imagine going for a walk and seeing a sign to alert me to the fact that a bear's about. I would have taken the exact same option that you did. Nice socks, I love self patterning yarn, it keeps you going when knitting with it just to see the pattern emerge. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

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    1. You get used to it when you live in BC, Jo. Even when there aren't signs warning you about one that has recently been spotted, there's always an awareness that you are sharing the woods. At least there should be! :-)

      You are right - the best thing about the self-patterning yarn is watching the pattern emerge. It's addictive!

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  14. For the past several years we've been spending much of our summer in a campground near Lake Tahoe. Black bears are common, even in the towns, where everyone has to maintain bear-proof garbage cans, but for whatever reason the campground was never troubled by any - until last year. A young bear tore open two campers (while no one was home), pigged out, and left messes. Needless to say, I'm nervous about this camping season. It used to be such a relaxed idyll. . .
    -- stashdragon

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    1. Lake Tahoe would be such a beautiful area to go camping in! When a bear smells food they will try to get to the source, but it's a bit scary to think of one being able to get into a camper. I have a friend who had one get into her house and the mess it left behind was incredible. Hopefully the bear doesn't return to the campsite this year. Just be sure to have your food stored well away from where you sleep!

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  15. Not having bears here, well not the roaming freely kind, I think my mind would have gone into total meltdown. I definitely think you made the right decision! Your socks look great!

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    1. Thanks Jacqueline, I'm really happy with the socks. As for the bears, we tend to get used to them. Almost every resident of BC has at least one bear story. :-)

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  16. We have bears here too so I definitely understand the special predicament of living with them nearby. I'm glad nobody had any trouble because of your local one. It's too bad you had to miss that workout though. Your socks look so good. I'm really in awe of people who can do this, truly. They're beautiful.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! As far as being in awe of people who can knit socks, that's exactly how I feel about you when I look at all the beautiful crochet you do. :-)

      Do you have bears come down into the city? That's a problem in most places in BC. Even Vancouver has bears wander in!

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  17. Oh my stars! You even hesitated when there was a bear about?? Kristie you frighten us .... and the Teapot Hill seems so genteel and tranquil, too.
    Love those socks, and the fact it is all the one yarn - I can't get my head around how that works at all! Happy weekend, Kristie.

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    1. Teapot Hill is usually very genteel and tranquil, Patricia. I'm laughing though. You live in a place that has multiple kinds of venomous snakes and spiders. I am terrified of snakes, even the non-poisonous kind. I feel frightened for you! :-)

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  18. Oh those socks are lovely, I really must give socks a go. I even have some fancy yarn. I was just talking to my other half yesterday about how some people have bears living nearby. It must be very thrilling, if a little dangerous. Nothing anywhere near as exciting round here.

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    1. I highly recommend giving socks a try! They make great travel projects because they are so small, and also good summer projects because you don't have a huge blanket or sweater in your lap as you knit.

      As for having bears around, to be honest most of the time I don't even think about it. You might not have bears, but I bet you do have hedgehogs. I would love to live in a place with hedgehogs!

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  19. Wise to turn around and not risk being greeted by a bear. We were once staying in a cabin in Nevada and opened the front door to find a mother bear and two cubs at the bottom of the porch. Believe me we closed that door fast! Those are some mighty fine looking socks. Might have to try the self patterning yarn.

    Darla

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    1. That must have been a scary moment! A mother bear with cubs is to be avoided at all costs. Most people don't realize how fast bears are either. You were wise to close the door fast. I think you would have fun with the self patterning yarn. It never gets boring!

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  20. My daughter always loved stories about finding bears in the woods! I'm glad you didn't come across one too! Sarah x

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  21. Haha. We don't have bears down our way. It's wild to think a person could be out on a hike and encounter one!

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  22. That's my sock reasoning too, Kristie. :-) Yours look great.

    They say discretion is the better part of valour and where bears are concerned I think they're quite right. I admire the fact you even had to think before turning round and going home.

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