I stumbled over the pass, and down the other side. It was fairly steep and rocky country but there were a series of flat grassy meadows ahead. Perfect little nooks for making camp. The view back behind me was of the last of the day’s light on a snowy peak, and ahead was a deep green valley with a twisting river at the base.
Following the regulations for the Park, I had my food stored in a borrowed bear-proof canister. The black, football-sized container was to be left thirty metres from the tent during the night. The Park had lots of information about how black bears can sniff out a morsel of food from several kilometres away, and such is their taste for human food (not humans themselves though) that they’ll go to great lengths to get their paws on some. Including busting up picnics, and breaking car windows to get the goodies within. There were photos of bears climbing in car windows, and instructions on what to do should a bear approach - mostly making lots of noise and throwing 'small stones.'
Exhausted after dinner, I crawled into my tent ready for sleep. I’d taken no chances and left my canister a good distance away.
But during the night not long after going to sleep, trouble struck. I heard a sniffing and snorting and snuffling round outside the tent and a flapping of the fly. A bear!, I thought as I lay dead still in fear.
I remembered the instructions I'd read, so I kicked into gear and began yelling ‘go on get out of here you bear’ and clapping my hands and clanging my water bottle as loud as I could. After about twenty seconds of this intimidating display of power I stopped to listen for sounds of a bear going away, but instead of less snuffling there was now a rustling round the other side of the tent as well. Two bears? Oh, crap.
Maybe a whole family - a village of bears - had descended on my helpless green tent to plunder the goodness within. Had they smelled blood and sensed I was easy prey? Or did I have any food in there? It was all stashed in the canister thirty metres away, though I had my painkillers and the little bottle of iodine water purifiers with me. I guess I should have put them in the canister. Damn.
It then dawned on me that amongst all the rustlings of the tent there was no identifiable sniffing and snuffling sounds or actual bear footsteps. After listening for a while longer I poked my head out and confirmed that the wind had come up pretty strong and the fly wasn’t pegged down very tight and was flapping innocently in the moonlight.
|Trusty bear canister|