Bear Aware--food is food to bears no matter where it is located

11 June, 2015

This is from Wolfman customer, Ian Mumblo at Halfway River, near Nakusp in the Kootenay region of British Columbia, Canada.  We are happy to report a happy ending but definitely a good public awareness story.  (There was no food in the bag itself just beer and toiletries):

...So this story starts with complacency and came inches away from ending in tragedy. With a little luck and a lot of patience my girlfriend and I were able to ride out of the forest happy and alive, but it could have very easily been a different outcome.


This was my first motorcycle trip going two-up and I don't think either of us were sure how it would turn out. Mostly I was worried the KLR would dislike long days on the highway, and too much weight on the forest roads. But aside from almost being killed by a bear, everything else turned out great. I was dead set on returning to a favourite natural hot springs of mine in an isolated section of the Kootenay region of British Columbia. On the second day we made our way out there and enjoyed a great ride through the mountains to the forest road that leads to the hot springs. This road is known for being in poor shape, so my main concern when we turned off the highway was going down somewhere along the way. I always carry survival gear and a SPOT so with that in hand off we went. The road was a mess, but everything went fine. We got to a camp spot, set up and headed for the hot springs which sit right on a river and are just about as good as it gets. We spent way too long soaking and taking cold dips in the river and by the time we started the hike back up the cliff to our camp it was after dark and we were dead tired. This is where we got lazy and it almost cost us. After a quick can of soup we set about getting ready to hit the sack. I hung the garbage in a tree and put anything else I thought might be a problem in a few dry bags and stowed it in my faithful Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel. What we failed to do was clean up other peoples garbage around the site and we completely failed at properly stowing ANYTHING THAT SMELLS LIKE ANYTHING in a tree and far away from our tent. The bear was after our deodorant, toothpaste, wetnaps etc. He got our beer and coolers too, but I doubt he smelled those through aluminum.


Around 7:00 am I woke up to sounds in our site. I have spent countless nights camping in the wilderness, many alone and am used to this feeling so I wasn't too alarmed. Until I looked under the fly towards my KLR and saw four very large bear paws just feet away. I told my girlfriend we had a bear and we both moved quietly to the center of a very small tent, grabbed our knife and bear spray and sat quietly. She is a Professional Forester and also has years of experience in the bush, but I don't think either of us were totally ready for what happened next. The bear moved around the site, stealing a lawn chair from one of the three vehicles around us. He then walked past our tent and we looked at each other through the small window on the fly. Keeping our calm, he wasn't too interested and moved off towards the bike. We then spent the next 30-45 minutes with this large, mature bear just feet away trying to break into my Wolfman bag. He eventually got tired of not being able to totally shred the amazing material the thing is made out of, so he just knocked the whole bike over and opened the bag normally. It was a painful moment to hear the bike go down and the bags contents spilling out. He spent a while consuming our beer and generally being a curious guy while we sat silently hoping he would move on. Every once in a while he would move around the site, but never far enough to afford us the opportunity to do something other than sit and wait. Eventually, our worst fear was realized. He got bored with the bike and drank all the beer, so curiosity got the best of him and he came back to the tent. We weren't totally sure where he was until we could see him bearing down on the corner of the fly. It still seems like a movie to both of us, completely unreal, but there he was. Suddenly there is his paw on the fly and he is pushing forward crushing the corner in towards us, we could see his face through the grey fly material and even worse, his paw, large and deadly was right there, literally inches from us. A gun would have been a godsend. Bear spray works, but not if you spray yourself because you are in a tent. That would likely lead to you being mauled, you just wouldn't be able to see it happening. We both stayed silent and calm and leaned back, both fully aware of the gravity of what was happening. I'm not sure what happened next, maybe it was our silent movements or he didn't like nylon, but he suddenly gave up and went back to lap up more beer. At this point I said it was time to do something, the longer we waited the worse things got. I grabbed the pepper, gave my special lady the knife, we grabbed hands and I slowly and quietly unzipped the fly. Not sure exactly where he was we made our move, jumping out of the tent, hands held, bodies close waving and yelling like lunatics. The bear was close, too close for comfort, but we had committed, so we stood our ground and began to move forward making the biggest racket we could. Suddenly he had had enough, grunted and ran up the hill.

Again, we made a few mistakes, but in the end it was our awareness and outdoor skills that kept us alive once we had gotten ourselves into this mess. It would have been very easy for this to have gone a very different direction. We camped the very next night, and it will never stop me from enjoying the wilderness, but it was a good lesson and something neither of us will ever forget. Especially the next time we are in a tent and hear something go bump in the night...

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