Our Temagami family canoe trip was great, except for breaking a paddle trying to scare a bear off our island campsite.
The bear encounter was on our last morning of a five day loop through Wasaksina Lake — Cross Lake — Lake Temagami — and back to Wasaksina (route details will be given in a later blog). Mike Kipp saw it first. He was the dad of the other family joining us on our trip. And thankfully, Mike was an early riser. He was up every morning at 5:30 sharp to take photos. I was second up — but the last morning I was a tad lazy. It was around 7:30 when I crawled out of the tent to wander into the back woods with T.P. in hand for my morning routine of cat-hole digging. On my return, Mike was motioning me excitedly towards the shore of the island campsite we had chosen. I came over and witnessed a medium-sized black bear swimming off another island and straight for ours.
It was cool to see the bear at first. We had seen little wildlife on our trip. Problem was, he was bee-lining it straight for us. I ran to the tent and woke my wife Alana and daughter Kyla, and told them to get in flight mode.
Mike woke his family and by the time each group member had crawled out of the tents to witness the bear quickly approaching our island site, it had gotten a lot closer.
At the 200 meter mark I reacted, yelling at the bear to turn tail. It didn't. Mike then shot off his starter pistol. It sounded more like an air-gun and did nothing to stop the bear's approach. I had more arsenal (bear bangers, bear spray…) but I chose to simply hit my paddle against the hard granite shore and yell louder at the bear. It worked. He retreated to the island he had come from. Thank goodness.
Bad news though. The paddle I used was the one Mike Kipp had carved for me a few years back — and by striking it hard against the rocks I had split it right down the middle. Mike didn't say much (Mike never really says much) but replied "I guess I'll have to make you a new paddle?"
My daughter was in awe of the entire event. That morning happened to be her sixth birthday, and Alana, in an attempt to calm her of the event, had told her I had invited the bear over for her morning birthday cake. As I Duct Taped my paddle blade in preparation for the paddle out, Kyla gave me a look of disgust and said "Dad, I can't believe you scared that bear away from my birthday party!"
Never a dull moment out there — that's for sure.