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Camping is always an adventure. At least it is when
I camp. Reserving at a campground called 'Killbear' should be the first
indicator of what might be in store during your camping vacation. Not killing
bears, of course (though I don't know why they would call it Killbear) -
but dealing with bears. Big, medium and small. Bears during the
day. And bears bears bears at night.
Don't be spooked. They usually just pass through,
unless of course, you have foolishly abandoned your site, leaving a
feast-fit-for-a-bear on the table.
And you have ignored this sign:
Notice the white sign with red lettering? Active
bear in campground. That means a pesky, stubborn, uncooperative bear is
lurking in the bush, just waiting for the novice camper to leave food and
coolers unattended. Beware. Bears know how to open coolers. They're smart,
you know. And they have hands. Or paws/feet, whatever. They can open
The black bears found at Killbear Provincial Park,
near Parry Sound, Ontario (Canada), are typically shy and only forage at night
when you're sleeping. I don't like to think about the fact that a micro-thin
piece of nylon tent separates me from the wandering bear(s).
Bear trap - baited with stale Tim-Bit donuts!
A few years ago at Killbear, we were enjoying some beverages
around the campfire when we heard the sound of dishes and cutlery and pots
clattering together, as if the large Rubbermaid container they were stored
in had tipped over.
Sure enough, the tip-over was genuine as was the
large, hulking bear with his snout in the bin. I quickly stood up, careful not
to spill my wine, and shouted, "GIT!" (I think "GIT"
was hill-billy-speak for "Go on now, get going." The word
"GIT" could also be attributed to alcohol consumption as one
syllable is much easier to pronounce.)
And so with several glasses of 'brave' under my
belt, I continued to scold the bear and walked toward it with my glass of
wine held high in the air, as if that was my weapon of choice. The
bear turned and scrambled away. Oh, but I was not finished. Taking a big
gulp, I charged forward, berating the creature at regular intervals: GIT, GIT,
Oh, I was bold. The hefty black
bear scampered ahead of me, much like a child caught with its hand in the
cookie jar and refusing to make eye contact. After stalking it for about 50
metres, I stopped. It was dark and I didn't bring my flashlight. A few glasses of
brave will only give you so much brave.
I turned and walked back to the glow of the
campfire, curious as to what the bear found so irresistible in the
Family members stood around the bin, each
with a flashlight in hand. Items were sorted and there it was. The
irresistible culprit. A vanilla-scented candle. Seems the son-in-law
thought the candle would be a deterrent for mosquitos. He forgot that vanilla
scent is an attraction for bears. And family being family, we've never let
him forget it.
I'll be camping at Killbear again this year. In
fact, as you're reading this, I'll be bear-proofing my site and wishing I had
the walls of a sleek, thick-walled trailer.
But not to worry, I shall have my glass (or
two) of brave.
The Twisted Climb
BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers' Poll
A novel for teens, young adults and adults young at heart