One or two things to "bear" in mind when trekking through Canada.
Things to watch out for in the mountains
If you are in the Rockies, you could be in bear country! Find out from the park wardens how likely you are to see a bear, and if there are any bear warnings. The best way to see a bear is from a distance, with them moving away from you. When you are walking, try to make noise, so any bears nearby are warned of your presence. If possible travel in larger groups, as bears will be intimidated and keep well clear. If you see any scavenging birds circling in the sky above an area, avoid it, as it may be the site of a kill, which a bear will defend fiercely. If you do come face to face with a bear, don’t run (bears can easily outrun humans in woodland). Don’t make eye contact, but watch the bear carefully. The safest place to take refuge from an attacking bear is up a tree, about 10 metres up a tree to be precise.
If the bear is watching you, it may be trying to work out what you are (they don’t have great eyesight), so try talking quietly to establish that you are a human. Generally bears will avoid confrontation with humans. One of the reasons that bears have proved a threat to humans in the national parks of North America is that they have become accustomed to scavenging for food left by tourists. When you are camping or hiking in the national parks, always clear your litter up and take it back to civilisation with you. If you leave it in bins at campsites, bears will sniff it out.
Definitely not as funny as it sounds, Beaver Fever is a stomach bug that you can catch from drinking water in the mountains that has been contaminated with beaver or deer droppings. Medically known as Giardiasis, symptoms include stomach ache, diarrhoea and nausea, and it can hang around for up to three weeks. Not what you need when camping out! You can avoid the bug by boiling any water you drink in the mountains, or by using sterilizing tablets.
Easy to avoid, as many people don’t believe it actually exists, the Sasquatch is the Canadian name for the Yeti, or Bigfoot. Standing around eight foot tall, covered in hair and by some (totally unreliable) accounts, a bit stinky, the Sasquatch is believed to be a distant relative of the mountain gorilla. Sightings of the Sasquatch have been reported in the Alberta and British Columbia Rockies. If you see one, take some video footage and you could make a fortune by appearing on cable TV talk shows exaggerating your experience. If you are camping, make sure you have your tent, a good ground sheet and a sleeping bag.
Canada is famous for its fantastic hikes and trails. The Rocky Mountains have some of the most stunning scenery in North America, and exploring them on foot is one of the best ways to enjoy the experience.
The Rocky Mountains are ideal for hiking, but if you are going on a serious trek, you should be aware of the unpredictability of the weather and be prepared. Different valleys in different areas of the Rockies have different weather conditions. The weather can change suddenly, and to find yourself in a sudden rainstorm without a waterproof jacket, or in a chilly area without a fleece can spoil your journey.
The key with clothing is to wear light layers that can be taken off and carried easily, or worn comfortably to keep you warm. Good footwear is essential, and if you are a dedicated hiker, you’ll have lugged your heavy boots around on your backpack for a while. Lighter and less rugged options are hiking shoes, which are ideal for less
demanding walks. Unless you are particularly attached to your walking shoes, don’t bring them with you from home. Instead budget for buying equipment in Canada. The stores there are good value and have excellent ranges. Proper hiking socks that provide protection for your feet against water, heat, cold and blisters are also invaluable.
Take a look at our Canada jobs section to find your dream job in Canada, or find out about getting your visa sorted out for your Canadian trip.