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PostPosted: March 23rd, 2004, 3:16 pm 
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Location: Whitehorse, Yukon Canada
It was Wednesday, August 13th. The day started out beautiful and sunny... a far cry from the howling wind and cold rain the previous night. We were on day five of an eight-nine day trip to Dawson City, paddling an average of 90 km per day.

The previous night we decided we would rent a cabin in Minto due to the extremely stormy conditions, as not only would it be difficult to set anything up in the wind, it wasn't worth getting everything wet when there was a cabin to be had for a mere $75 per night (ouch!). There was no electricity, running water or linen; but hey... we were dry... and we didn't mind sharing a bed.

Our plan was to get to Kirkman Creek by day seven, which was 160 km from Minto.

We were aware that we were entering the most desolate part of the Yukon River between Whitehorse and Dawson City, so we made a plan to stop at Fort Selkirk (40 km from Minto) in the mid-afternoon for our main cooked meal and continue on another 40-50 km before we made camp. We knew from experience that there were more bear sightings in this section, so we decided that we would not bring food out anywhere near our camping area. As early evening approached we started looking for a good island to make camp on, when we starting seeing bears every 5 km or so. This went on until about 10:30 p.m. when we decided that we would have to make a decision as it was going to be dark in a couple of hours.

Most of the islands were thickly covered with willow scrub and alder.... we were looking for an island that offered good visablility, was dry and with lots of firewood. We finally found what we thought was perfect at 10:30 p.m. We had a great view all around us for approaching wildlife, lots of firewood, and a nice sandy / rocky ground surface with no bear tracks.

We got out of our kayaks and immediately proceeded to change into our land clothes (fleece and hiking boots). I made a call (satellite phone) to my partner, Mark to let him know we were okay and where we were. As I talking to Mark, I spotted a black bear looking at us. He was directly across the river from us... approximately 35 metres away. My two friends started hollering to scare him away, but he stared at us and was in no hurry to move. Finally after about 5-7 minutes, he started moving slowly upriver along the shore, periodically looking back at us and finally disappearing around the bend in the river.

My partner, Mark, was aware of the bear and told me that there was a helicopter fueled and ready to go if we needed it (he works for a helicopter company). I told him that we would be okay and that if we were in trouble, I would call him... I also told him that I would check in with him early the next morning between 6:00 and 9:00 a.m. to let him know all was well.

After I got off the phone, my two friends and I decided that we couldn't risk the bear coming back and visiting our camp. We decided to prepare ourselves and our camp and that we would take turns sleeping in two-hour shifts so that there was always two people sitting at the fire keeping it going and keeping each other awake. It was now 11:00 p.m.

The first thing we did was to collect all the firewood we could find.... we wanted to be sure that we had enough to get a big fire going and that it would last all night until 6:00 a.m.when we
were planning to leave. After we thought we had enough wood, we carried huge logs over and made a square around our firepit.

We then got out all our weapons (ha ha ha).... we had 3 cans of bear spray (useless!), an air horn (also useless!), whistles, a geologist’s pick, an axe, a leatherman, a swiss army knife, our headlamps, satellite phone, and we decided to wear our life jackets as we sat guard at the fire pit... not only would this help keep us warm, but it would also offer some protection if we were attacked. We also collected some long pieces of wood to make firesticks (this does not work like it does in the movies!) Now you might think we were going overboard after a simple bear sighting, but only that morning, I had told my two friends that I had a really bad feeling that something awful was going to happen that day... as the day wore on, the feeling grew stronger. The feeling was intense after the bear sighting and so I was determined to be prepared... and thank God I listened to my intuition... as our preparedness saved our lives!

Next we got our tents and sleeping bags out of our kayaks and set up our tent between our boats and our fire pit ...12 metres away from the fire.

At 11:50, it was decided that Julie would sleep first and Sarah and I would take the first 2-hour shift at the fire pit. Julie went to bed immediately. Sarah and I sat down and prepared ourselves for a long shift... we put our “fire sticks” in the fire and were chatting quietly. It was almost dusk and you could still see everything around us. Suddenly, at 12:05 a.m., we heard a little splash in the direction of our boats (which were 28 metres from our fire pit — we have exact measurements because the CO and RCMP measured everything a couple days after the incident). We stood up and looked around.... we realized that there was a black bear at our boats.

We both yelled at Julie to get out of the tent and get to the fire pit. As soon as we did that, the bear ran directly from the boat to us. In that time, we had grabbed our fire sticks (what a joke... they were useless smoldering bits of wood) and I was pressing frantically on the air horn. The bear came within 2 metres of us and stopped... we were screaming and waving our smoldering sticks at it.... and I had one hand on the air horn... blasting it at the bear... it was like the bear was deaf... he retreated a few metres and came back at us again. In desperation, we picked up rocks and started chucking them at the bear as fast as we could.... the bear retreated a few metres again. Julie emerged from the tent... and joined us at the fire pit... luckily for her when the bear retreated the second time, it was in the opposite direction of the tent and the boats (boats... tent... firepit... bear in an upriver direction [which is south]). After charging and retreating many more times... (we managed to prevent contact by throwing rocks as fast as we could and screaming), the bear finally retreated a further distance of about 25 metres and continued to travel in a wide circle around us until he was north of our firepits and parallel to our boats (28 metres away). It was now 12:30 a.m., the wind was blowing from the south. The bear crouched down with his nose into the wind and watched us like a cat watches his prey. He sat there until we could no longer make him out... about 2:30 a.m. During this time, we continued yelling at him, and we made big piles of rocks, and made the fire even bigger. It is interesting to note that during this entire time the bear did not make one sound.... the CO and RCMP said that this meant that we were the target.

I must stop here... running out of time... stay tuned for the rest in a couple of days....

kayakgoddess


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PostPosted: March 23rd, 2004, 3:24 pm 
I just wanted to say hi and join you for a marshmellow..jeesh you humans are uptight!


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PostPosted: March 23rd, 2004, 3:30 pm 
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kayakgoddess wrote:
I must stop here... running out of time... stay tuned for the rest in a couple of days....

kayakgoddess

Arrrgh! Just when I had my nose right up against the monitor, reading like :o..........................it's like the news "teasers".............."film at 11:00".
Barbara


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PostPosted: March 23rd, 2004, 6:45 pm 
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Come on kayakgoddess ... couple of days is over!!! Cannot take it any longer, where is the papa bear?
Jan

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Quo vadis?


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PostPosted: March 24th, 2004, 10:10 am 
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kg:

Looking forward to reading the sequel to your story. I'm curious: you said you had pepper spray with you. Did you use it, and what was the effect?

cdb


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PostPosted: March 24th, 2004, 12:40 pm 
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how cruel!"we now pause for this comercial:"


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PostPosted: March 24th, 2004, 12:41 pm 
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I have my reserves about the false security of pepper sprays.
A woman Hydro Quebec employee who's job it is to take meter readings at private residences in our area used pepper spray on an attacking dog. She hit him right on a couple of good shots and it only made him more aggressive. The dog shook off the affects of the spray after a second or so and just kept on back coming at her.
I say save the pepper spray for spicing up those freeze-dried suppers.
Gerald G.


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PostPosted: March 24th, 2004, 12:58 pm 
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Location: Whitehorse, Yukon Canada
I'm sorry everyone... it is just a long story and takes a bit to write it... not just timewise either...

I promise I will finish it soon.

btw... I don't recommend bear spray... it also has a detrimental effect on the person spraying it... even if the wind is blowing strongly in the same direction you are spraying it.

I've also seen a video clip of a test done with bear spray.... it was sprayed on the ground in a known bear area, it attracted bears and the bears used it like a 'salt lick'

kayakgoddess


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PostPosted: March 24th, 2004, 3:16 pm 
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I'm really enjoying your story. Please tell us more.

But, sorry, I must take exception to those bear spray comments.
Bears are very inquisitive and pepper is bound to attract them. People like the smell of pepper, so why not bears? However, there is a difference between smelling and having it drip out of your eyes. And using bear spray upwind is a bit like peeing upwind - only if you really really have to!

Pepper spray must/must be sprayed directly into the eyes and breathing passages to be effective which means that you must very very close for it to work. If you don't see the stream hitting the face, you fired too soon.

I had to use bear spray once and honestly believe it saved the life of the animal I sprayed. I was backed up with 8 12 gauge slugs.
I have never seen an animal react so quickly and so negatively. It gave us more than enough time to completely pack up and clear out.

Enough said, back to part 2 please.
cheers, Ted


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PostPosted: March 24th, 2004, 4:39 pm 
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Location: Whitehorse, Yukon Canada
Yes, you are quite right, TripperTed, bear spray can be effective. I suppose it really depends on the circumstances and the bear.

In our case, it was detrimental. Even though the wind was travelling in the same direction as our spray (towards the bear), some of the fine spray flew back and got us in the eyes blinding us when we were trying to defend ourselves.

I would probably still carry it and use it.... instead of saying I don't recommend it, I should have said that it would not be my first choice of defence.

kayakgoddess


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PostPosted: March 24th, 2004, 5:11 pm 
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kg
Please save the re-battle points to the end of the storey, and let us enjoy the sequel :o
Jan

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 Post subject: Bear story...
PostPosted: April 5th, 2004, 5:01 pm 
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We are sitting and staring at the monitor...
Can not wait for the conclusion...

Act one get the full 5 stars...

Glad to hear that you are alright.


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PostPosted: April 5th, 2004, 9:53 pm 
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you have my humble apologies for moving the tread away from your story.
I will promise never to take anything off track again if you promise to post part 2.

I have now bowed three times in the direction of Whitehorse which is probably the prettiest and most friendly in the world.

If you dont't do something soon, I'm sure the rest of this forum will lynch me on side or worse, bar me from MYCCR.

Seriously though, we all would like to hear the rest of the story.

Cheers, Ted


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PostPosted: April 5th, 2004, 10:03 pm 
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........wow!.........

whenever your ready,

:o

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[color=green]For love of the wilderness, A journey begins...[/color] [color=brown][b][Nature's Calling...] So get OFF(!) THAT(!!) THUNDERBOX !!![/b][/color]




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PostPosted: July 5th, 2004, 4:29 pm 
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Location: Whitehorse, Yukon Canada
Part 2 of 3... sorry it took so long

Around 2:30 a.m. we put our headlamps on so that we could keep track of the bear... we could barely make out his shape, but we could see his eyes reflecting back at us in the darkness when our headlamps caught his eyes at just the right angle.... we were very afraid and it was important to us that we knew where he was at all times.

Around 3 p.m. we could see some movement happening but couldn’t tell what was going on... we got a little excited and started yelling even louder as we were afraid it would come back at us. We suddenly saw two different sets of eyes with our headlamps... we thought that it was a mistake as there was only one bear., but both Julie and I saw two sets of eyes several times. There was still no sound from the bear... a few moments later after the movement stopped, we could no longer see two sets of eyes.... just one and about an hour after that we could no longer see any eyes or shapes... we still did not hear a sound. It was 4:00 a.m. and we didn’t know where the bear was.

It was a beautiful night... there was a full moon which didn’t shine on our island, but lit up the entire mountain range to the east... we also saw northern lights. We kept the fire going and built more piles of rocks and discussed our plan should it come back and attack us... or if one of us were killed. We also made plans on how to escape the island with or without our gear.... we just needed to wait for dawn so that we could see what was happening around us.

Dawn broke at 5:00 a.m.... we decided that Sarah would be the lookout at the fire. I would go to the tent which was 12 metres away and start taking it down and packing everything up. And Julie would stand guard at the entrance of the tent with the geologists pick and bear spray. I had bear spray in one hand or beside me on the ground and the air horn in my pocket (ready to blast if needed).

Three times Sarah yelled out to us to get back to the fire as she thought she saw something brown moving in the sparse willow scrub.... all three times we ran back to the fire and looked, but we couldn’t see a thing. Sarah was sure what she saw was brown, but the bear that was bothering us was pure black... none of knew what it was.... if it was anything at all. We still did not hear one sound from the bear.

I finally got the tent and our sleeping bags & pads packed up, and I moved everything to the fire. We stood around looking for any sign of the bear and did not see anything. At 5:30 a.m. we decided that Julie and I would go down to the boats (28 metres away) and pull them into the water with just enough of the kayak on shore so that they would not float away. I also brought some of the gear with me so that I could pack the boats. Again, Sarah was the lookout at the fire and Julie stood over me with her pick and bear spray.

Just as I got the last boat pulled to the waters edge. Sarah screamed there was a bear. I looked up and locked eyes with a large silver tipped grizzly. I am guessing the bear was roughly 28 metres away from me because with the fire to my left, we made a triangle.

I grabbed my bear spray and started to get up. My first thought was to run to the fire. The bear and I did not break eye contact... I started to move towards the fire and so did the bear at about the same speed... as though he was going to cut me off. I thought to myself if I run he will run and he will win. I knew at that moment I was in very serious trouble. I was sure this was going to be it. I tried to walk slowly to the fire... and the bear also moved towards the fire. Julie was behind me. When I was about 6 metres from the fire I heard a sound behind me. I looked back at her and saw that she had fallen to the ground. It was the first time that the bear and I had broken eye contact. The first thing that went through my mind was whether I should keep going to the fire or go back to Julie... I hesitated. I was very afraid. I could go back to the fire... I had to go back to Julie. As I headed for Julie I saw her picking up rocks and throwing them in the direction of the bear as she was trying to get up. I later learned that when she fell, she didn’t know how far the bear was from us, so she just started firing rocks in that direction.

I looked back at the bear and saw him change direction and come towards us. Julie was throwing rocks... I blasted the air horn at the bear and then stopped to fire rocks at it... the rocks made the bear stop and retreat... it was enough for us to hurry back to the fire.

more coming soon


Last edited by kayakgoddess on July 6th, 2004, 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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