Local walker Fran Blishen was half-way up Pulpit Rock, taking her usual 8 a.m. morning hike on Thursday when she heard something above her crashing about in the bush.
“I was the first one going up to Pulpit Rock, so I was taking the precaution of calling loudly every 50 metres to alert any bears,” she says. “It’s lucky I did. I scared off two very light brown bears that were most likely to be grizzlies. They headed up the hill away from me, and there was a third one moving up through the bushes. Probably a mum with her older cubs.
“They weren’t looking for a confrontation and were probably more scared of me than I was of them. That’s why it’s important to be bear aware and let them hear you first. Plus, I always carry bear spray which gives me some confidence should I surprise a bear.”
This early morning encounter has spurred Blishen on to found Nelson Trail Walkers.
“It’s really nice to have company on these trails,” she says. “We already have a trail running group doing the same, now we need one for walkers.”
For now, if hikers want company on Pulpit, Blishen suggests making an 8:30 a.m. a drop-in time for weekdays, and 9:30 a.m. for Saturdays and Sundays for Pulpit/the Flagpole.
“If you want company, meet at the bottom of Pulpit at these times and hopefully there’ll be someone there,” says Blishen.
Blishen hopes that the walking group will take off and that they can explore other trails in and around Nelson together. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.