It was so nice to wake up to a quiet morning. No wind ripping at the tent, no rain thundering on the fly, no waves crashing on the shore. It was still early in the morning but we both got up to see what the ocean was looking like, hoping it was going to be a calm day.
We emerged from our nest in the forest, the ocean was like silk. but the beach was covered in logs, we were climbing over the slippery wet trees when I looked up, and looking back at me was a big bear. It was a much bigger bear than we had seen before, it’s shoulders were thick and bulging with muscle, it’s haunches were huge and high and it had a shaggy brown coat. It was a grizzly bear.
I froze, my mind racing, Ngaio and I had gone over what to do in these scenarios. All I could remember about grizzly encounters was that the best defence was to pretend you were dead, somehow I didn’t see that working in this scenario.
There was a few hundred meters between us and the bear, Ngaio insisted that we go and hide in the tent until mr bear had gone. I was sure he had seen us both so I watched him carry on doing his beary things, not wanting to disturb him if it wasn’t necessary. I also thought if I scare it it may become defensive and I didn’t want him to follow us to the tent.
Ngaio kept asking me what we should do, over and over she was suggesting backing away or scaring the bear off. I couldn’t answer her, I needed to see what the bear wanted to do. Ngaio disappeared back to the tent and I stayed on the log, keeping an eye on this huge predator. He had become distracted by the two of us on the log, and had changed his path. His pace quickened and his ears perked up, he jumped onto a log coming closer at an alarming rate. Suddenly he charged, leaning back onto his haunches he lunged forward, running through the water straight at me. I smashed a stick over a log and yelled, I smashed another and stood up high on the log making myself as big as possible. I lifted my arm and pulled the trigger on my bear spray, a potent puff exploded into the air between us. This stoped bear its tracks. he turned and ran back down the beach and into the forest. My heart was pounding in my chest as I hurried back to the tent, that was a close encounter with a grizzly!
I found Ngaio in the tent clutching my big knife, her face melted with relief when she saw me. We then had a long heated discussion about why she had left me alone on the log. In the end it didn’t matter because we were both safe. We packed up camp and got out of the forest. I made breakfast on the beach and filled the thermos with hot chocolate, hoping it would help keep us chirpy when the wind picked up.
We got on the water before slack tide, we planned to avoid the main current streams and make the most of some extra time on the water. It was the perfect day for paddling, it was like bliss compared to yesterday. We could paddle right next to the coast, giving us plenty to look at and keep our minds busy. We shared the channel with whales and dolphins today, and the odd seal popped up to say hello. The water stayed calm all day, like the ocean was saying sorry for being so rough yesterday.
We were paddling to Telegraph cove, the thought of fresh food was so exciting, we couldn’t wait to arrive. We paddled into Telegraph Cove at 5pm. It was a ghost town, we could see one light on in the entire town, we didn’t see any people. It had started to rain and slowly but surely it was getting dark. We walked up to the reception building for the campground where we were going to stay, to be greeted by a sign saying ‘closed for the season, see you in 2019!’. We called every number we could find, talking to all sorts of friendly Canadians who all said the same thing, closed for the season. The resort owner called us back and told us we could set up our tent across the road from his shop, there were washrooms with hot showers and a laundry. That was good enough for us! It was pitch black by the time we got to setting up the tent, it feels a bit weird being camped on such a public spot, even though no one is here. We paddled 44km today so the hot shower was a blessing on our sore tired muscles. Beers and burgers will have to wait until Port Hardy!