Monday, August 8, 2011

Wild Kindness

My husband, two sons, one girlfriend, a couple who have been friends for years, their two adult kids, and another friend of ours went camping for a week at Killbear Provincial Park. There were ten of us in total. We try to camp together at Killbear for a week every summer. It is usually an idyllic week that conjures up the kind of memories that imprint a family for a lifetime. This week was no different, well that isn't quite true. We were definitely left with some interesting memories, but maybe ones we don't want to relive next year.

To begin, just a few short hours before our departure, I broke my right ankle while out for my early morning run. With a pair of crutches and strict instructions to be completely non-weight bearing, and a frustrating amount of logistical re-planning, we eventually departed - against doctors orders.

Upon arrival we couldn't help but notice a large sign that read, Active Bear in Campground. For someone who is completely immobile this is not encouraging. Unkindly, the jokes began (primarily from the men in our large party): 'we don't have to worry about being faster than the bear, we just have to be faster than Elaine'....and so on....Two nights later I had the last laugh when my husband got up - from our tent - to investigate the damage we could hear raccoons creating in our dinning tent. A few moments later I heard a terrible, LOUD, SNARL. It didn't sound the snarl of a raccoon. As it happened, my husband found himself face-to-face (within 4 to 6 feet) with a large, black bear who was none to pleased that he had been interrupted while enjoying the bag of sugar he discovered in a bin that had been accidentally left out.

My husband ran, contrary to all directives about what to do when one encounters a black bear. I for one, am thankful he did. We discovered the next day that the sign warning us about the Active Bear, was somewhat misleading. There should have been an "S" on Bear. There were about 7 Active Bears in the park. One visited our campsite, or a campsite near us every night. It was a week of blissful, sun filled, beach filled days, and sleepless, anxiety ridden nights. We heard car alarms, horns, dogs barking and even blood curdling screams, all efforts to scare bears away from campers hunkered down in little more than a glorified baggy.

Once the bears disappeared into the cover of day, and campers finally emerged to survey any damage and brew some much needed coffee we felt a camaraderie with our fellow campers that we hadn't experienced before at the park. Everyone began to look out for each other, warn new campers coming into the park about bear proofing their sites, and offer help and advice to those who had the harrowing experience of listening to the snorting of bear outside their tent. We were united, and kindness abounded. Interestingly, most of us felt compassion for the bears despite our fears, aware that we were after all in their environment. The fact that they are becoming conditioned to feed in the campsites, cannot portend good things for the bears.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest to the rest of the world."
John Muir (1838-1914); naturalist, author

As for me, I traded in my ineffective crutches (as far as running goes), for a much more sophisticated means of escape transportation:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When will you post again ? Been looking forward to this !