Face to Face with a BEAR at Mew Lake Campground !! HOLY SH@%%T!!!

By |2015-09-09T11:48:53+00:00September 9th, 2015|Categories: Adventure, Algonquin, bear, camping, Mew Lake, Nature, Ontario|Tags: , , , , , , , |20 Comments

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!

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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.

Happy Camping!

Camper Christina

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  1. lesyabudna September 9, 2015 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    Great story! Thanks for sharing. Our friends mentioned that they saw a bear in Algonquin this summer as well. I guess it’s just hanging around. We came across a bear while backpacking at Sleeping Giant this summer. Had no truck to hide behind 🙂 but the bear didn’t pay any attention to us and kept sniffing around all the sites looking for food. Our tent ended up with a big rip but we just duct taped it and now we joke that it has bear scars.

    • camperchristina September 9, 2015 at 9:48 pm - Reply

      LOL That’s awesome!!!

      We were told there are 2 momma’s and 4 cubs from last year roaming Mew Lake. I saw a momma and 2 cubs last year but it was in the airfield with many people around! Not quite the same thing. I believe the bear I saw was one of the cubs I saw last year, no evidence or anything, just a feeling. Thanks for sharing your experience with me! I’m heading on my first solo trip this weekend and can use all the good happy bear stories possible! lol.

      • lesyabudna September 15, 2015 at 6:07 pm - Reply

        Looking forward to reading about your solo trip. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while.

        • camperchristina September 16, 2015 at 1:11 am - Reply

          AWE! thank you sooo much! I am looking forward to writing it! LOL. Am away again this weekend, last trip of the summer trip#11. I work 2 jobs so it’s been hard getting everything done in between, but I love it so much, I sacrifice things like sleep! HAHAH! Hoping to get a jump on it tomorrow night!

          I’ve been wanting to do the solo trip for a while as well. You just have to go for it! 🙂 I know you can do it! Just make a plan and go for it! Any ideas where you want it to be?

    • camperchristina September 9, 2015 at 9:49 pm - Reply

      fyi! Our neighbour had duct tape on their tent and it was indeed caused by a bear. They left bread in the tent. The bear stuck his paw in and pulled out the bread and went on about his business!!!

      • lesyabudna September 9, 2015 at 9:54 pm - Reply

        We had no food inside. Nothing at all. So we have no idea why the bear did it. He also flattened three of our neighbours’ tents and ripped one. Again no food inside. Just out of curiosity.

        • camperchristina September 10, 2015 at 2:25 am - Reply

          Oh Geez!! Don’t tell me these things right now!!! 🙁 I was feeling completely safe knowing I was doing all the right things. 🙁

          • lesyabudna September 15, 2015 at 6:05 pm

            And they work 90% of the time. But I guess it’s important to remember that wild animals are unpredictable and be prepared. We always carry bear spray on backcountry trips. Hopefully we’ll never need to use it 🙂

  2. kayakyrstin September 15, 2015 at 5:59 am - Reply

    It’s always a little scary and so much fun afterwards seeing wildlife! Especially scary with unfamiliar animals. We saw a fox and deer and raccoons on our recent trip and it was the fox I was unfamiliar with and slightly scared of but it was the crows that got to our friends’ food!

    • camperchristina September 15, 2015 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      hahaha, well, I have a new post going up tomorrow, about the full trip at Mew Lake. We had what I am calling a ‘geese gang’ come to visit the site. I was honestly more scared of them than the bear! Thanks so much for sharing your story, for the feedback and for following my blog! I appreciate it greatly and am happy you are enjoying my posts! 🙂 I am also liking yours very much! 🙂 Happy Hiking! 🙂

      • kayakyrstin September 17, 2015 at 5:07 am - Reply

        Thanks! 🙂 Yeah, I’ve heard about Geese being bad news for campers and kayakers!!

        • camperchristina October 1, 2015 at 5:17 pm - Reply

          Hey Kyrstin, check your messages I sent you something! 🙂 You have been nominated! See my latest blog post for details! 🙂

          • kayakyrstin October 3, 2015 at 5:02 pm

            I’ve been doing some house shopping stuff so I haven’t had time to get on wordpress, but what what a fun surprise when I finally logged in and found all the messages from you 🙂

          • camperchristina October 4, 2015 at 11:53 pm

            Ya, sorry for all the notes! Part of the rules says you’re supposed to contact all the nominees so I wanted to make sure you got it. 🙂 Still hoping to hear from the last two. 🙂
            Have fun with the house shopping stuff! There is no rush on the Liebster post.


          • kayakyrstin October 7, 2015 at 3:55 am

            Thanks! We didn’t get the offer we tried for yesterday but it’s kind of fun to house shop so I’m fine with dreaming a bit longer 🙂

  3. danaelizabethx October 6, 2015 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    That is so crazy that the bear ate ur candle!! Who would have thought???

    • camperchristina October 7, 2015 at 4:07 am - Reply

      Yup! I was very surprised but many people have said to me that it’s totally normal. I’ve always left out my bug spray & my citronella candles. No more! Thank you so much for reading, and for the comment ! Have you ever had an encounter with a bear?

      • danaelizabethx October 7, 2015 at 8:20 am - Reply

        Luckily no- the only time I saw a bear it was running away from my car as I was driving to the highest point in NJ- and it had a few cub- so I just saw their butts running away FAST! It didn’t register what they were at 1st because where I live in PA the Bears stay away from people- they are out there but not an issue like they are in some areas- luckily!

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