Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada is one of my favourite places on earth. Located at the transition between the southern deciduous forests and the great northern boreal forest, this immense piece of protected wilderness is home to a large diversity of wildlife, including over 2,000 black bears. That may sound like a lot of bears, but bear in mind (pun intended, feel free to groan) that the park contains over 2,400 lakes and is 7,653 square kilometers in size.
My love for Algonquin Park began when I was 11 years old and my father took me into the interior of the park for a fishing trip. I remember my grandmother was angry with him, worried I might be eaten up by black bears but my father just laughed it off - he wasn't concerned.
Accessible only by canoe, (after numerous portages) the park's interior is the most remote place I've ever been. One afternoon, I paddled alone to a nearby island, pulled the canoe up onto a little patch of sandy shore, and began to explore. Leading away from the water's edge was narrow path in the grass, made by animals after many trips down to the water for a drink. Without any thought to my own danger, I followed the trail into the woods. Soon I spotted a giant granite outcropping, and left the trail to go and climb it. Once I reached the top, I stopped to admire the view of the lake over the treetops and I remember thinking to myself, that perhaps, I was the first and only person to have ever stood atop that rock. You might expect that I experienced some sense of loneliness or insignificance when I compared myself to the vast wilderness surrounding me, but I remember feeling a great sense of contentment and peace. And I gave no thought to bears.