A note from the WenOut Staff-this story was originally published by the Washington Trails Association.
What seems scarier: meeting a bear on trail or driving to the trailhead?
Bears and other wildlife rank among the most common fears for hikers. Cars? Not so much. And yet vehicle accidents were the second-highest cause of death in national parks in the last six years. Wildlife attacks were among the rarest.
Study after study has shown that when it comes to fears, we humans often get it wrong. The way that fear works in the brain is different than other cognitive processes—fear can be triggered without our ever being conscious of it. I avoid sleeping near streams because their “babble,” which sounds like people talking, freaks out my brain, despite the unlikelihood of a casual midnight dinner party happening in a remote alpine basin.