So, after a little rest and reading and drifting in and out of sleep in my tent, I heard some noises in the woods outside .. branches breaking, cracking, etc. Half asleep, I ignored it. I heard it again. Still half asleep, I ignored it again. It continued. Coming to, I sat up and said to myself (actually I said it out loud, but didn’t want to acknowledge that I talk to myself here – people will think I’m crazy), “I know exactly that noise is – I need to go take a look”.
So I got up, threw on my sandals and walked around the beach. Rounding the corner, I saw my paddle lying on the beach. The kayak, which I’d left lying beside it, was nowhere to be seen. Instinctively, I looked out across the bay. I saw instinctively, because I KNEW the boat hadn’t floated away. I’d been very careful to drag it up well above high tide line, and had the add security of leashing it to an alder branch, so if the tide did rise abnormally, it would be secure. So I knew the boat wasn’t in the ocean. And a quick look over the water verified that. No boat.
I arrived at the paddle and I saw the scene posted in the picture above. It doesn’t show up real well here, but you can kinda see, starting right at the out of focus lupine (purple flower) in the foreground, a swathe of trampled grass and brush heading into the woods. I could still hear the crashing going on inside the woods. I looked own on the ground again, next to the paddle, and saw this:
A steaming fresh pile of bear scat. As I stepped off the beach into the woods, I called out the regulatory ‘Hey Bear’ and made a bit of noise stomping on the brush (normally I move silently, almost cat-like, through the woods – dad will verify, I learned it from him). The sounds of a hasty escape deeper into the woods indicated the culprit had absconded, so I ventured, bear spray loaded and in hand, in to the alder. First, I saw my dry top:
Nice tear in it, but possibly salvagable. Next I saw the spray skirt, in similar condition, a silnylon tarp, torn and destroyed. Next I saw my PFD (Personal Flotation Device, or Life Vest):
Next I find a Bear Resistant Food Cannister. Unpunctured, my food safe and sound inside it, scratch marks on the outside. Plus one for Carl – not sure where the other container is. Next I turn and see my boat,
You can see the bear learned something; that the boat should always be leashed up to a tree, so it doesn’t float away. Look here:
And his fingerprints:
So my trip just changed markedly. A kayaking trip just isn’t the same when your boat is in this shape. Then it changed again. Movement caught my eye, and I turned my head to see the bear, returning to look over his gear. When say ‘returning’ I mean ‘returned’ – he’s about 30 yards from me. A full grown adult grizzly bear, cautiously advancing, staring intently at me through the alder, not making a sound. I again offer the traditional greeting of ‘Hey Bear’ – I figured it worked last time, maybe he’ll run away again. No such luck – he advances, nose twitching as he searches for my scent.
“Hey Bear, go on, get out of here” .. bear continues cautiously forward. 20 yards.
“OK bear, I’m leaving, just gimme a sec.”
I back up, and the bear advances. I reach the edge of the alder and the beach. the bear continues forward, I continue backward. Down to the waterline. The bear reaches the edge of the woods and sits down – a good sign. I edge away along the waterline, talking to the bear, telling him how pleased I was at the work he’d done on the boat, and that I’d be glad for him to keep it as a gift. I keep going, making my way towards m tent, etc, and the bear retreats back into the woods to his new boat.
I get to the camp, and can still hear him over at the gear, having a grand old time. So what does one do in such a situation? Wait til tomorrow.