Does a bear shit in the forest?

So we hiked all day and we hiked all night. I thought we’d never stop hiking. Actually, that’s not true. We only hiked for about four hours. It just felt like we’d been hiking all day.

We took the Lakeshore Trail around the eastern shore of Lake Louise. That was pretty. Nice, wide path and not too difficult of a climb. Before we headed into the forest, we stopped to admire the diamond-like glint of Victoria Glacier which is slowly slipping into the lake, dragging with it all the rocks and boulders and grit of the mountains which is why, front this perspective, Lake Louise looks a milky blue. It’s all the dirt particles in the water refracting the light, Bruce said.

Big Beehive looks down on a reflection of itself in Mirror Lake. Photo by David Lansing.

From here the grade steepened considerably and the trail narrowed. Bruce walked alongside me for a bit, asking me questions about my work, until I pretended to had to tie the laces on my boots just so he’d move ahead, ending our conversation which, for me, was labored in the thin air. At one point, Bruce stopped the group and knelt down over some scat just off the trail. It was smaller than cow pies but larger than deer berries.

“Anyone know what this is?” he said, pointing at the pile.

“Poop?” said Erika.

“Well, yeah, that’s right,” said Bruce. “But what kind of poop?”

No one offered a guess. “It’s from a grizzly,” he said, and then he went into a monologue about how bears shit in the woods for several reasons, not the least being to let the other animals know they’re there. “It’s like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant,” he said. “If one bear poops on a trail, he’s telling any other bears that may come around that this is his turf—stay away.”

Just like people.

After about an hour and a half of steady climbing, the trail finally leveled out as we approached tiny Mirror Lake. It’s called Mirror Lake because it perfectly holds a reflection of nearby Big Beehive mountain atop its glassy waters. From here it was about another half mile up a pretty steep trail to the biggest surprise of all, a little teahouse on the shore of Lake Agnes. As we approached, Erika wondered if they also served cocktails. “I certainly hope so,” I said.

Tags: ,