Just before I launched my kayak, I checked my waterproof digital camera and couldn’t get it to power up. Strange and annoying; this is the camera that replaced the one I dropped overboard last time I was Kyuquot Sound; I lost all photos from that trip.
Thankfully this time around I had my phone with a good camera as an option so I put it in a dry bag behind my seat, just in case.
After only 5 minutes on the water, I see some movement on the far bank; something large and black on the water’s edge. I paddle closer, and sure enough, it’s a black bear digging around in the tidal zone. Good sized, jet black with a light brown face; He doesn’t see me as he searches for food on the rocky shore.
I fumble for the phone as I drift towards him and snap a few pictures before he turns, sees me and freezes. He is staring me down, totally motionless; Probably doesn’t see too many kayakers.
A crow call startles me, nearly causing me to drop the phone in the water, just like on my first trip here! I realize I’ve drifted not far from shore, about 50 feet from the bear- too close, so I quickly back-paddle as the bear continues to stare me down, transfixed.
On the long drive up to the launch site the previous day, I was just thinking that I’ve not seen a bear in the wilderness for a long time. I’ve driven by a few but that’s very different; It’s powerful, primal, seeing a bear when hiking or kayaking in the backcountry; in his territory, on his terms. Not in a car doing 50.
As I paddled on, I thought, whilst some people would think the complete opposite, seeing a bear in the first few minutes was a good omen; A sign of the adventure to come.