Let me tell you something. I am terrified of bears. Since moving up North, I have been too scared to go hiking, or even walking along some of the roads in the forest. There could be bears there.
My husband finally convinced me to go on a hike last Saturday, so go I went, but not without some precautions. I wore a bear bell, I clapped my hands every few meters, talked in a loud voice, stomped my feet, and blew a whistle. I am eternally grateful that we didn't bump into any other hikers, otherwise I would have been mortified. And, in case all of those precautions didn't scare all of the bears away (actually, I am sure they were laughing at me in the trees) I had a flimsy pocket knife to use as a last resort (I am VERY glad it never came to that!). You think I would feel at ease with all of these precautions, but I was more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. At one point a bird rustled in the trees, to which I screamed my bloody head off and my husband nearly fainted because my screaming scared him.
I should explain that this fear of bears is not totally unfounded. One night, in our dating years, my husband was walking me home when a giant beast came lumbering up a dark alley towards us. As we tried to figure out what the animal was, a car drove up behind it, illuminating the bear and sent it bolting towards us. We never stopped to ponder what we should do, we ran as fast as our adrenaline-fueled bodies could take us, and the bear must have cut through someones yard, because we never saw it again.
So I was scared for a reason. And now, I am the proud owner of a can of bearspray and a hip holster that the kind salesman assured me would stun and disorient any bear and is safer than a gun. Here's hoping that I never have to use it. Or that I am not down wind if I do.