Years ago, before I got a good camera, I took this photo of a grizzly. It’s not very clear, but I really didn’t want to do a close-up.
This is the Orford River which flows into Bute Inlet on the west coast of British Columbia.
We had tied the fish boat to a small dock in a bay around the corner, and then took a ride up the river in our aluminum skiff. The area was known for grizzlies and we wanted to see one, but I hadn’t counted on two things:
that we would actually see one not too far away,
and that the mouth of the Orford has a lot of sandbars.
I’ve had nightmares about bears forever, but it would still be a big deal to see one. I knew if a bear actually came along and tried to chase us, we could just turn the skiff around, rev up the outboard, and roar out of there.
On the way upriver though, we were pushing the boat off one sandbar after another with the oars to keep in water deep enough to use the motor. These sandbars were spotty and just when you thought you were in the clear, up popped another one. So I was even more nervous than usual. And of course that’s when we saw him.
Even with his hind end in the water, as he swatted at salmon going by, I could tell he was huge. We watched for a moment or two, but when he saw us, we knew it.
His head came up and he stretched his neck up tall. Then as he sauntered in our direction along the fallen log that you see lying across the river, we thought it was time to get out of there.
There are some things you do in your life that seem okay at the time, and later you say to yourself, “What was I thinking?!”
This was one of those times.
It was a big thrill to see the bear, but what if he hadn’t been so agreeable? Didn’t I know how fast they can run for a short sprint? And what if we had gotten high-centered on one of those sandbars in our haste to get away.
Everything could have ended up differently.
And I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about it,
because bears don’t have Internet inside their bellies.