'It's huge': Australian couple films close encounter with grizzly near Canmore
Group was hiking on East End of Rundle when they came across the big bruin
A couple visiting from Australia will return home with an amazing tale — and the video to prove it — after they had a close encounter with a grizzly bear while hiking last month on East End of Rundle, a popular route near Canmore, Alta., about 100 kilometres west of Calgary.
Jessica Boshoff and husband Dale Boshoff were just a few minutes into the hike with friend Jordan Illsley — who lives in Canmore — on June 5 when they came upon the big bruin on the trailhead.
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"Jordan's shoelace came undone so we stopped and Dale looked up and saw the bear," said Jessica. "He sort of looked at it and he was like, 'What is that? It's a bear,' then he said, 'No, surely it can't be a bear,' and it took a couple of seconds for him to process. Then he just said 'Guys,' and I could tell in his voice that he was serious, so we looked up and saw the bear right in front of us, and then got behind [Dale] because he had the bear spray."
The group moved slowly away from the animal to give it some space and it was at that point Dale pulled out his phone and started recording.
A 53-second video uploaded to YouTube on June 29 — which had been viewed nearly 7,000 times by Tuesday afternoon — shows a large grizzly on a wooded trail about 20 metres in front of the trio.
"Stay there, bear-ie, don't follow us, don't come toward us. I don't want to use my bear spray," Dale can be heard saying.
The bear then moves off the trail and heads downhill.
"That's a good boy," says Dale. "That's a good boy … he's huge."
The bear meanders around the group and back onto the trail about 20 metres below them, then moves out of view.
"Keep going, that's a good boy, keep going," Dale says before letting out a deep breath as the video ends.
Did the right thing
Nick de Ruyter, the education and outreach coordinator with Wild Smart in Canmore, says the group did what they were supposed to when it comes to staying safe around a bear.
"It's a great example of a great way to handle an encounter with a grizzly bear," he told The Calgary Homestretch.
"Some of the main things I noticed in the video were, they did have bear spray with them and they were ready to use it. The gentleman was talking very calmly to the bear. They, as a group, seemed to be very calm, they did not panic, they did not run, which is a great thing, they stayed together … which is also awesome, and it turned out the bear just wanted to use the trail."
Describing the encounter as surreal, Jessica says she was especially surprised to see the animal as the trail was busy that afternoon.
"About 30 seconds afterward, two guys came jogging down the mountain where the bear just was," she said. "If they had been a minute earlier, they would have come up behind him and possibly scared the bear straight into us."
The group returned to their car once the bear was out of sight, where they decided to call it a day after reporting the sighting to Kananaskis Emergency Services.
"My legs were shaking for about half an hour afterward," she said. "And I don't think we would have made it actually, because once the adrenaline wore off we were so tired."
For Dale, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"He wasn't showing any signs of aggression, I kind of just got the feeling he wanted to get around us. We were in his way," he said.
Jessica's family back home in Australia weren't as excited, however.
"I sent the video home to Mom and she sent back, 'Come home now,'" she said with a laugh.
The couple arrived in Canmore last September on a six-month working holiday then decided to extend their stay to experience more of the Rockies.
They're set to return to Australia at the end of July.
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With files from The Calgary Homestretch