So yesterday started out pretty much the same for a day here at Telegraph Cove – have coffee and listen to all the salmon fishing people pull out first thing in the morning (have coffee, that is, reading our books and to heck with going out anywhere yet). I guess it works for them, but we’re kayakers. Lazy ones. More coffee please.
Anyway, off we go after making ourselves a lunch and getting our stuff together. Out we go onto the water with a minimum of fuss along with the whale watching boats, lots of other kayakers, fishing boats and cabin cruisers of every size. As we are heading out towards the islands, the orcas come. Great! Another day of watching black and white flashes, huge dorsal fins, lots of leaps and dives. After a few hours of this, I really have to hit the shore to make a telephone call (that’s kayaking talk for going to the bathroom on the rocks or in the bush). Can’t wait any longer, all that coffee, gotta go.
So we pull up to the nearest island. About ten minutes ago, we thought we had heard a nearby group of kayakers talking about a bear, but neither of us paid much attention. Jim moved the boat into a little cove and I jumped out, moving onto the rocks with my water shoes. In order to get a bit of privacy, I moved up the large rocks and stood still for a minute deciding how I could get over them and sink down out of sight. Just as I was scanning the rocks, I looked up to the distant shore (ha, I wish it was distant – in fact, I realized later it was only about forty feet away) and said, in a calm, shocked voice, “Oh! There’s a bear.”
Now, why was I shocked? Well, we’ve been kayaking and hiking for about three years. Rarely ever have I seen a bear in all the places we’ve been and never have I seen one when I’m going somewhere on my own even though I’m always nervous and prepared. So…..this just seemed impossible. Surreal.
And why was I calm? Well, I can only attribute that to just plain dumb. For some reason, the surrealism kicked in and I just stood there. The bear was looking at me and I was looking at him. And even more ridiculous, some part of my mind said, “oh well, so there’s a bear, but you have to go SO BAD, just do it anyway.” But, at the same time, luckily I guess, Smokey started doing a strange thing. He balanced himself on all fours (aggressive stance), and started snuffling. That’s right, huffing and snuffling and moving from side to side and making all kinds of weird noises. Translation: get out of here, you idiot or I’m going to attack.
Well, at that point, that apparently slow, subconscious mind of mine finally started to work. It yelled at me, actually. It said, move, stupid! And so, I backed down the rocks as quickly as I could (about time), told Jim we had to hit it, and executed a perfect push off the rocks and jump into the boat. Even as I was doing that Jim, who thinks a lot faster than me all the time, was already paddling backwards and getting us out of there. It was about then that I remembered the bear spray. Brilliant, eh?