Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Occasional Definitions: Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear: A notoriously messy eater, scientific name “Ursus arctos horribilis.” Commonly known as “griz” or “silvertip” after its often grizzled pelt.

Size: large, six to nine feet long, three to four feet high at the shoulder, weighing from 300 up to 1,400 pounds.

Color can vary from blond (Los Angeles / Hollywood / Florida areas) to almost black in less hip regions like New York City.

Diet is mostly vegetation (grasses, nuts, berries, and roots), plus small mammals, salmon, bison, elk, caribou, carrion, and backpackers (when in season). Current populations have been documented only in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington.

Listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in the contiguous 48 states. Scat usually occurs in large mounds, often filled with berry seeds or fish scales, sometimes with cans of pepper spray or hiker’s warning bells.

Grizzly Bear: Giant hamster. Also known as the “giant mountain hamster.” Exceedingly large, extraordinarily rare, but entirely harmless beast. Often mistaken for a gigantic grizzly bear when seen at all.
Ordinary (tiny) golden hamster

But since they, like all hamsters, are nocturnal they are, when sighted at all, seen at night, and may only appear as a huge, shuffling and silent shadow in the darkness, which can make them seem all the more frightening.

If encountered, which is almost never, one of these creatures may accidentally stuff an unwary backpacker into one of its cheek pouches and carry same home to its tidy and clean underground nest, but will normally release the backpacker immediately after recognizing its mistake, especially if offered a snack such as a handful peanuts or a slice of apple. (This is a good reason to carry gorp.)
Giant mountain hamster (when annoyed to distraction)

Hamsters are both solitary and territorial and may fight to the death when encountering one of their own kind, but harbor no innate animosity toward humans at all. So if you happen to be accidentally abducted by one of these beasts and find yourself in its sweet-smelling, grass-lined nest, then relax. You will be safe there, and may even decide to stay a few days, but be sure to do all your cooking outside, and please try to remain polite and respectful of your host, who will treat you as a friend unless you go out of your way to annoy it.

From: Fire In Your Hand About ultralight backpacking stoves. (print)

PDF: Fire In Your Hand (The same, but now paper-free.)