‘The moment I saw them, I said holy smoke, I will die!’: Alberta hiker escapes grizzly encounter

LETHBRIDGE — Eric Macapus has been an avid hiker in Alberta and BC since 2010. He’s enjoyed every hike he’s ever done… until Saturday that is.

After a planned hike in Kananaskis Country was cancelled, he decided to summit Mount Crandell in Waterton alone.

However, when he was over halfway through the trek, Macapus gained some unwanted companions.

“When I was about three-point-five kilometers away from the true summit, I hear a growl in my back and was like, ‘What is that?’,” he said.

“When I turned my head back, boom, just 12 meters away from my back the grizzly momma and the cub were following me. The moment I saw them, I said, ‘holy smoke, I will die.'”

Macapus quickly started scrambling up the mountain to the summit to escape the grizzly and her cub.

He twisted his ankle on the way up but, thankfully, arrived safe and was able to escape the dangerous situation he had found himself in.

When he reached the top, he called 9-1-1 for help and watched the grizzly and her cub from a safe vantage point.

He arrived at the summit around noon and stayed there until close to 5:30 when he was airlifted to Cranbrook.

“I could’ve managed to go down at the time, even if it hurt but I’m still scared of the bears, maybe they are still there,” Macapus told CTV.

“That’s my first experience so I was worried about being eaten by the bears. It was crazy.”

The bears eventually left while Macapus was waiting and he wants his experience to be a lesson for others.

He’s reminding everyone to make noise while they’re hiking to help ward of predators and have their bear spray in a handy, easy to use location.

He says it’s also important to make sure you have a portable phone charger in case you need it and to avoid hiking alone if possible.

“If you can invite others, then invite others. Going solo, you should be more prepared and more experienced when dealing with that kind of stuff.”

As grizzlies and other bears start to come out of hibernation, Alberta Parks is also focusing on bear safety.

They’ve been posting tips and tricks on their twitter and social media pages to make sure hikers are ready and aware of the dangers bears pose.

Macapus considers himself lucky to have walked away from his harrowing hike with only a sprained ankle.

However, regardless of his experience, he says he’s excited to get back out on the mountains again soon.

“I won’t go out this coming weekend, I have to rest, but for sure up there the next weekend I will be up in the mountains because I am a mountain addict,” he said with a smile.

For more information on bear safety, you can visit the Alberta Parks or Bear Safety websites.

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