Photo: Dave Freed

Marten Drinking River. 

Bear at Lansdowne House

After a day of many processed meat sandwiches and a successful re-outfit we were tired and ready for bed at Lansdowne House.  A nasty day had finally calmed to a cool evening with the beautiful red orange glow of sunset cast over the Northern Store managerís  back yard  (this is where you camp).

I had risen from my tent to discreetly pee in the bushes (I didnít want my host to catch me) and was interrupted by Will and Wells.  Each looked like they had seen a ghost.  Instead of a ghost I was quickly informed that they had seen a bear. 

The two had gone for an evening walk around the grounds of the Northern Store and had seen a bear traipsing about.  They told me they almost walked into it.  I looked at them with something of a pained look since the two liked to joke and this kind of thing was not beyond them.  Will pointed.

A three-foot high split-rail fence separated the yard and a road that ran parallel to the yard.  On the other side of this fence was a very large black bear.  I was shocked not by the presence of the bear, but by the sheer size of it.  It was not the scraggily type normally encountered, but by collective imaginatioÖerÖestimations at least seven feet long and 600 pounds in weight. 

There it was, lumbering up and down the road looking at us with passive interest.  Some gas tanks held its attention for a time and then it paced up and down the road again.  By this time the boys were out of there tents and standing with Will, Wells and myself.  Their tents were a bit closer to the road than the staff tent and there was considerable concern that the bear would walk into the yard (via a small open gate) and visit with us.

I explained to the guys that bears were much like raccoons and that they are more afraid of us then we are of them.  I told them there was no way the bear would have the guts to walk into the yard. 

The bear then promptly marched into the yard.  He walked towards the ladís tents.  This was my first encounter involving a bear where we were the ones cornered.   I picked up the walloping pot and my axe.  I began to cautiously walk towards the bear banging the pot with the axe and shouting loudly.

The bear broke into a trot.  First he ran the wrong way trapping himself in the corner of the yard.  That caused considerable worry since I knew trapped bears didnít respond well to aggression.  My fears were relieved however when the bear quickly turned and ran out the way he came.  He trotted down the road and out of sight.

Dark was setting in and the staffmanís interest had piqued at this point since he was out of the tent, disappointed that he hadnít seen the bear.  There were several boxes of trash in front of the staff tent and we decided it best to move them even though we were sure the bear would not return.  We moved the them to the far side of the yard and said some words designed to reassure the guys.  I then settled into bed.

Just as it became very black I rose to take that pee I never got around to.  I glanced over to the trash boxes and promptly jumped back into the tent.  I told the staffman we better get dressed and we both did so very quickly.  The bear had returned and was enjoying drink-mix wrappers and other such goodies.

The trash boxes were a safe distance from the camper tents, but the staff tent was just a little close for comfort.  Dave and I stood at what we deemed a healthy distance and with headlamps shining on the bear we commenced shouting and pot banging.

This time the bear only looked up from his feast and stared.  I will never, as long as I live, forget the dark eyes reflecting back at us the light from our headlamps.

Bear cont'd next page >>

 

                                                                                                                                 Photo: Dave Freed

Phil (stern) and Roy taking Frenchman's down the middle.

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