Western Alberta is bear country.
Western Alberta also has cougars (mountain lions). Not to mention the natural elements and other potential dangers of wilderness activity.
Hiking and backpacking in the Albertan wilderness has a level of risk involved. There is an element of acute awareness to one’s surroundings; maybe even a healthy fear.
Hiking with children adds another level of fear.
There are almost no reports of bears or cougars attacking families who are hiking together. Typically, families are really noisy, which gives wildlife plenty of notice that you’re in the area.
Nevertheless, my father’s heart is at unrest when hiking with my boys.
If I were hiking with a friend, I wouldn’t even think of bear activity. But with my boys running all over the trail, I am ever watchful. Every large tree stump begins to have an animal-like shape.
I found it easier in Alaska.
I don’t want to get into the right and wrong debate of firearms, but a pistol on my side provided a lot more confidence than bear spray.
I don’t have any studies or statistics to back up my confidence. I just know that if I came face to face with a bear, and I had both options on my belt, I’d grab the pistol every time.
Unfortunately, I found that my time in Alaska developed a false faith in firearms. One that proved to enhance my fear in the backcountry, after moving back to Canada.
Thankfully, my faith isn’t in firearms.
I can head into the Alberta wilderness without a pistol, because I firmly believe God has a plan for my life. Moreover, a plan for the life of my wife and two sons.
Don’t get me wrong. It’d be nice to hike with a pistol in Alberta. However, if my faith in firearms becomes more important than my faith in God’s plan and protection, I’m out of balance.
God’s protection trumps any deterrent.
People have still been attacked with firearms by their side or even drawn. Furthermore, we all know that bear spray is more of a security blanket than a steadfast deterrent.
Scripture teaches us that to everything there is a season. God has seen all the days of my life before I had ever lived them. Going for a walk in the woods isn’t sinful, so it couldn’t be too far off from God’s plan.
If my time on this earth is to end due to a bear attack; then bear spray, a pistol or even a machine gun isn’t going to stop that from happening.
We can’t hide in the city.
We can’t let the potential dangers of wilderness keep us away from God’s created world. We can’t let fear steal the wonder of God’s handiwork.
Sure, bring a firearm or bear spray as a precaution, but don’t place your faith in those deterrents.
Enjoy the canvas of your heavenly Father’s creation with confidence; confidence in His love and care for you. Find wonder in everything He has created, including those that reflect the danger of His power and majesty.
For me, nothing reflects our Mighty God more than a full-grown grizzly bear…at a distance of course.
When’s the last time you spent some time in bear country? What precautions did you take? How effective do you think they were in comparison to God’s plan and protection?