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"Bear Camp"

Cutting Firewood - Bear Camp




Intense paddling, close Moose encounter, and we even found wild raspberries at lunchtime! The weather looked to be closing in from the valley ahead of us. Clouds building in the Arctic and rolling South towards us. We found a dry creek that looked like it might have some softer ground that wasn't bog. So that bears and other beasties weren't attracted into our camp we were keeping our sleeping area well away from the food store. To give us a good base of operations we put the tarp up a bit closer to the river, food and boat. This was a really great luxury to have somewhere we could quickly duck out of the rain and safely store kit. We were sleeping in two solo tents so it also gave us somewhere to chat if the weather wasn't that great.

Weather Closing In - Bear Camp
After cooking up a warming Zucchini Pasta dish, we did just that. Niall was sitting on the creek bank that we had integrated into the tarp shelter as a comfy seat. I was on the other side of the shelter, facing North, propping myself up on the camera Peli cases. We were enjoying a wee dram of Yukon Jack and discussing the excitement of the day.

Cooking Up Zucchini Pasta
Just as Niall was saying he thought he would turn in for the night I saw a movement over his left shoulder. Adrenaline cursed through my veins and I muttered something to the effect of "there's a bear" and went to work trying to get the camera case open. A fair way downstream, and crucially upwind, a Grizzly Bear was mooching along the bank towards our camp. We had 24 hour light at that point but with the weather it felt like dusk. That only added to the drama, watching this apex predator casually making it's way toward us, not a care in the world! Seeming as if it had been the bear's plan all along it suddenly waded into the river and started to cross. By this point I had just about got the video camera up and running and was doing my best to steady my hands to focus in on this beautiful terror. Watching now through binoculars we could see it disappear into some bushes. I was glad not to have to face it on our side and wondered whether it had picked up our scent and thought to avoid us. Then an icey thought caused me to shiver. What if, in the same way that I was thankful that we were downwind of the bear, the bear had also considered this. What if it had only crossed in order to double back behind us for a surprise attack! Despite the logical bit of my brain presenting reasoned argument why this was hugely unlikely I kept those binos trained on the bush were the bear had now settled down. 15 minutes of watching a magnified brown bear rump and I was almost satisfied that the bear didn't care less about us. That said I made sure to action a top tip I had heard once to pee around your tent to put the bears off. Not pleasant I know, but I defy anyone to watch the power of those muscles rippling beneath a rough brown coat, and climb into gossamer thin tent canvas without considering emptying their bladder first!!

Niall's Bucket AKA "Bucky"