I woke up around 6:15 and went for my morning walk to the facilities. The washrooms were 10 sites down, one of my poorer decisions I’ve made when picking a campsite, but otherwise, our site was incredibly awesome! I was practically sleepwalking, I was so tired and could not wait until I could walk the other way, and get back into bed!
Eventually, that time came.
I was walking down the camp road and was just approaching the site before ours when i saw him! He was standing there on an empty site opposite ours, just one site down from where I was standing, and he was looking at me!!!! OH …. MY….. GOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!! (sorry for the blurry photos, I was shaking and obviously rushed, but I love the pics regardless)
I was so excited, so scared, so everything and anything you could imagine. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time, after 15 steady years of backcountry and car camping and I’d never seen a bear one on one… until now!
He started to walk towards me so I slowly backed up and turned my head to look away from him and avoid eye contact. I lifted my phone which I had pretty much on me at all times and snapped two quick photos. I contemplated a video, but decided I would be the smart alive girl, not the stupid dead tourist who made a cool video but didn’t live to see it! lol.
I was at the neighbours’ campsite and they were still fast asleep, like pretty much everyone else in the park! I backed up by a tree, took one last look, and then slowly disappeared deep into their campsite, towards the lake and walked along the trail behind our two sites, from theirs, to ours.
As i did this, the bear walked back towards our site along the road!! Oh dear. Why did he turn around? I stopped in front of my tent, waiting. There was no point in going in. The keys for the truck were on the picnic table and that was on the far side of the site by the car. I watched the bear pass me and disappear behind my truck. WTH? Where is he?
At this point I whisper to my friends in the tents. Kim responds immediately, Andrea is in a deep sleep. I wait and watch. I peek around my truck and see the bear is now lying down beside my drivers door on the opposite side of us, just chilling out! YEEE!! I wait what seems like forever and he finally gets up and walks partway between our site and the next site from us. I take this chance to take another photo… (lol) (also a stellar picture that should be in galleries worldwide! bahaha) Is that an aardvark?? lmao!
I then wake up Andrea and tell them both it’s okay to very quietly come out of their tents. They do and we go over to my truck and stand behind it as now the bear has walked farther away from our site and on to the next one. LOL. Like standing behind the truck will protect us! HAHA! We watch the bear pass through the neighbours sight and diseappear, pretty much into thin air, or so it seemed!
Where did he go? We didn’t see him any longer. I grabbed the car keys from the table, we got into the truck and decided to go for a drive and see if we could see him from the safety of my vehicle. I’d much rather see him in my truck that walking down a road!!! But we didn’t find him. We did find alot of people waking up and starting their days, so we quickly spread the news that there was a bear very close by and to stay on high alert.
After getting the girls some delicious coffee over at Algonquin Outfitters, right next door and leaving a sighting note at the front desk (they weren’t quite open as yet), we went back to the site and started breakfast. I did a bit of investigating and noticed one of our citronella candles was not where I’d left it, instead it was near my truck, practically empty with giant claw marks in it. Oh no! I hope the bear didn’t get sick from that. He ate the whole thing!
We made breakfast and carefully tore down our site, with our wits about us. When our neighbours woke up we informed them both of what had happened while they were asleep, just hours before.
We headed to Algonquin Outfitters in Oxtongue as we were kayaking from there to Ragged Falls for the day! I spent the drive there and the entire day giggling and smiling like someone who’d won the lottery!!
I was very scared when i saw the bear, but I did the right thing, I didn’t panic, and I almost felt a calmness when I was with him that I can’t quite explain. It was an incredibly surreal moment and one I will never ever forget! Although I am extremely regretful that the bear ate my citronella candle and possibly got sick from it, I learned a very valuable lesson and thought it best to share it so other people know that you really do need to put absolutely everything away when you are in an area where bears are present and leave anything and everything with any type of scent at all, in the car or a bear barrel, bear vault, locker, etc.
I hope my experience will help others in some way to realize that most bears are not after us humans, they are just looking for food, and as long as you keep your head on straight, stay calm and act accordingly, the bear will continue about it’s business and leave you be.
Thanks so very much for reading my post and as always, if you have any questions, comments or issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.