Trip Recall -- Bear got the food we got carrot sticks & Jolly Ranchers
by Rob Johnson
After a quick breakfast of GORP this time we finally got an early start.
Back into Skoota then that 180 rodder into Missionary. We single portaged it but had to stop and rest several times.
Again, it was an on again off again kind of rainy day.
From Missionary it was a short hop into Trader then another short hop into Vera. It was only midday or so but this was supposed to have been our layover day so we decided to stop at a very nice campsite there.
We decided to have a hot lunch of pizza pudgy pies. I thought they tasted great. They didn't sit well with Justine. Several trips into the woods later and she would swear off pudgy pies for the rest of her life.
We decided to clean ourselves up a bit and I remember it was easy jumping into the water but not so easy climbing out. I think we had a shower bag with us but we used the lake instead, convinced that our no-nitrates, environmentally friendly soap made it OK. Again, remember this was 20 years ago.
Shortly after getting clean we decided to head into the tent. It was mid afternoon but it started to drizzle again and the mosquitoes were simply unbearable. We scratched some games of hangman into some cardboard and brought carrot sticks and Jolly Ranchers into the tent to snack on.
CRASH -- GRRRRR
We flew out of the tent just in time to see a flash of black fur running off with our food back. We knew to hang it at night but this was in the afternoon! We waited a while, debating what to do. On my last trip we had met some portage clearers who said you should throw rocks at the bears to scare them off. Rocks in hand we went the direction that the bear had gone. After tracking her for a ways we found where she had opened up the pack = debris was scattered. The pack and the bear however, were no where to be seen. The only things we salvaged were the pots/pans, an egg container (with a bite mark but no eggs), and a can of spaghetti sauce that she had bitten down on but not through (I know, no cans, but I hated the powdered stuff and we always packed the can out with us). I don't know if the aluminum pack would have helped in this situation or not.
Taking inventory, all we had to eat for our 2 day paddle out were carrot sticks, Jolly Ranchers, and that can of spaghetti sauce. We had no matches (they were in the food pack only = a mistake I no longer make). We had no food pack so the one consolation is that I wouldn't have to take a pack and the canoe across portages. We put the little food we had in an empty bread bag we had picked up and hung it from a tree.
By then it was starting to get dark so we went to bed early in order to get a quick start the next day. We had barely fallen asleep when we heard the whine of a bear cub just outside our tent. THE BEAR WAS BACK. At this point I got ticked. I remember yelling something like "You've got our food you WILL NOT get our Jolly Ranchers". I charged out of the tent and grabbed a pan to beat on which scared them off. Now you know why I called the bear a "she". We now knew it was a momma bear and her cub. Suddenly the advice to throw rocks at them seemed like a really bad idea.
2 or 3 more times that night they came back. We didn't sleep a wink but we did manage to snap some pictures of them.
Before dawn broke we had camp packed up and we were on the water at first light. Dix Lake, Skoota Lake, Missionary Lake, Trader Lake, Vera Lake