August 23 2012 — Day Off in the Rain at Koeye

It rained pretty hard overnight. And the water came up to within about 5 feet of the tent. And I slept with my head pointing downslope so I could keep an eye on what was going on outside. But this position was causing me a lot of muscle ache in my abdomen for some reason.

It wasn’t the greatest sleep with the rain on and off. When it wasn’t raining I had the front fly open so I could see out. But then when the rain came I had to close it up which meant I had no idea what was going on outside.

In the morning I dozed around in bed and then went back to sleep for a while. I was just coming to when for some reason I felt the need to look out the front which luckily I had unfurled when I first woke up.

And there, standing about 4 feet away from me (more like, above me), was a grizzly bear.

Hmm. Was this a dream?  I was still half asleep. After about a second I realized it wasn’t a dream and “You have got to be $#&!ing kidding me!” was the first thought that went through my head, and then without time to even contemplate what I would do, out came a loud, “HOLY SHIT!”

That was enough to send him on his way down the beach. He was just checking the morning tideline for any goodies that may have washed up last night. I had my food bags sitting outside the front of my tent and that’s what he was interested in. I do not believe in tying your food up a tree unless you have a really good opportunity to do it properly. It is likely that the bear would just climb the tree anyways if he wants the food; apparently it’s an old wive’s tale that grizzlies can’t climb trees. If I had done that here I wouldn’t have even noticed since the noise from the waves would have probably overpowered the noise of the bear eating my food. And then we would have had a problem bear on our hands that correlates people with food. Instead, I’ll defend my food. If he had really wanted my bag he would have grabbed it and run away, and since I usually tie it off onto everything else that would have woken me up. Then I would have chased after him with bear spray to retrieve it — problem solved.

Thankfully he was just investigating and then continued poking around down the beach.

He casually made his way around the bay, past the longhouse to the lodge construction site.

I was wondering what kind of entertainment I was going to be getting from across the bay. Soon bear bangers were set off from the boats and the big bear dogs started going wild. He high tailed it into the bush and the dogs were in hot pursuit, barking like mad. This lasted for quite a while and I could hear their progress way back into the bush up towards the river, behind where I was camped.

I dozed off some more and then almost hit the roof when out of the blue something crashed my tent. I let out a yell louder than I ever have (I don’t know what the sailboat overnighting in the bay 100 m from me was thinking about all this). The problem arises if something crashes your tent before you have the chance to 1) get your spray ready, and 2) unzip your tent, in which case 3) you’re kind of screwed. Thankfully, I don’t think most animals would just come out of the blue and suddenly crash a tent without hanging around and making some investigatory pokes first. In the case of a cougar, you are totally safe in your tent.

Anyways, a few seconds later I saw that it was the bear dogs on their way back, stopping by to say hello. They tried to get in my tent but I wasn’t having that.

This is the young guy.

The older, more wise of the two.

For most of the day they hung out with me. They knew their job — to protect people from bears, and they did it well. They slept most of the day, as they seem to be barking throughout the night at every noise or scent they pick up.

Not a huge bear — probably an adolescent just getting into mischief.

It rained on and off for most of the day and I had no initiative to do anything. But lying in this downward position all day was really causing me a lot of muscle ache. Stretching out didn’t help.

A younger guy from the work group walked down and I had a talk with him. He had been volunteering here for a couple weeks as a carpenter after being at the Hakai Beach Institute (see a few posts in the future). He was heading back to Bella Bella tomorrow, and then back to Victoria for school. It turns out he is friends with people I know from the Ucluelet Aquarium! Small world.

The gulls making a fuss over something.

Poking around the forest behind my tent.

The place with all the action. It’s kind of interesting, the kids’ camp is located almost a kilometer away from the main lodge, up the river above another sandy beach. That seems to be where the bears go through as there are lots of tracks there. But, there doesn’t appear to be any problems.

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