The weather was fogging in and it looked like a day to stay in, but Daisy came to my tent and we discussed that it could be an opportunity to learn more about shooting in difficult lighting. No one wanted to be left behind so we all trudged off into the fog. Kent followed some distance behind the group, and with me at the head of the trail, I was left to choose the path. Fog turned to drizzle and then rain. Since we had gotten this far, we decided to stay out where a female bear was fishing. Kent took us in very close and I could sense the bear was irritated with the intrusion. It seemed like a careless move. She shook her head and glared at us, then marched out of the water towards us. Kent had left his flare deep in his pack, luckily mine was ready and I handed it to Kent and deferred to his expertise in bear closeness. She came aggressively within three meters of us and then changed her mind and reluctantly backed off. My concern about our guide began to grow. As the sky got darker we abandoned the shoot and, well-soaked we plodded back to camp. We did our best to dry out gear, but it was futile. I was wracking my brain for ways to keep up spirits in the group. There was a tension there with Kent that I did not understand. I fell asleep for my afternoon nap, hoping to wake up with a solution.
That afternoon I decided I could only be responsible for my own behaviour not Kent’s and I resolved to make the trip as pleasant for everyone as I could. I would try to bring the group together and encourage the building of friendships and be supportive of everyone in the group. I had to keep the bigger picture in mind that this amazing bear experience would hold lifelong memories for all of us. We would all cross paths again somewhere down the road and I wanted to build those bridges.
We went out at low evening tide and a few breaks in the clouds provided some small opportunities. Finally we saw Melissa. Sadly she only has one cub. ‘Hope’ the little female had not been seen this year. She may have been killed by a boar last fall or simply succumbed to the elements. No one knows. Scrappy, however, had grown tremendously and was in fine form! The event that transpired next brought home to me how fragile his place is and how tenuous is the freedom we have with the bears. A family of three from France had flown in to Hallo Bay and camped illegally in the middle of the bears’ meadow and grazing area. They had no guide and clearly were not aware of the ‘rules’.
Two bear viewing guides had tried to speak with them about where they were camped but they refused to move. They were frequently wandering around alone, rather than staying together. The mother managed to get herself between Melissa and her cub Scrappy. Luckily this happened with Melissa and not a less tolerant bear. We were too far away to help and I am not sure what we could have done. This family were determined to do things their own way. Melissa watched out of one eye while grazing, as Scrappy proceeded to stalk the woman. She made the mistake of backing away nervously which served to entice the cub even more. He moved to within a few feet of her and she took off her jacket and started flicking it at him. He was very amused and not at all afraid. We were terrified as we watched knowing full well that if he attacked her the wardens would be forced to come in and shoot him. The wonderful Melissa allowed her cub this folly but finally ‘huffed’ and called him back to her before real trouble ensued. We were so relieved.
Back at camp sleep is a long time coming…We still have no fence, and thoughts of nearby bears concerns us all. The crash of the waves at high tide is near and a strong wind buffeted the tents. Semi-dry, and bear flare next to my alarm, I retired for the night.