O.K. So if there were a check list for things one must experience before being officially declared an adventurer, number one on the list would be: *poop in the woods and somewhere close behind would be *get charged by a bear! The latter often induces the former, so you are likely to cross both off the list at the same time.
Inspired by the book "Born to run", I decided to try my hand at a little bare foot running. Dragging my buddy along for the jaunt, Gary and I each threw on a pair of flip flops and made our way out onto the gravel road that follows the Nass River from New Aiyansh to the Cranberry Junction where we would be fishing for the next week.
This stretch of gravel road is riddeled with bears-we passed four on our way into our campsite. The thing about inspiration though, is once you find it, nothing else really enters the equation. If Gary had asked me to go for a jog and I hadn't just finished reading "Born to run", I would have asked him if he wanted to go get mauled by a bear and when "no" was the obvious answer, perhaps tucked into another "smore", with my 30/30 lever action Marlin close at hand. However, this was not the case.
So there we were jogging shirtless in short shorts and flip flops down a logging road that is probably more frequently travelled by bears than automobiles. There was a light breeze and the sun was out. It was fantastic! As I explained to Gary the theories of running style and mechanics illustrated so wonderfully in this book, kilometer after kilometer whipped on past.
Gary-"It makes you run on your toes, it's, completley different." Captain-"I know right, I feel so light!" Gary "Me too." Totally in the zone, the two of us were flying, completely absorbed in the act of running, oblivious to everything else...
Captain-"AHHH SUGAR!" I just booted a large rock with my big toe and split it open, blood was leaking everywhere. Luckily I had a pair of soc's in my pocket, not sure why, but I did. So I put one over my cut toe and away we went again, running down the sunset, bare foot style.
Not sure how much time passed but eventually Gary said "Should we head back?" "Uh...Yah I guess, sure." So we spun around and began to make our way back to camp, I am guessing about 10 km. As we made our way back the wind was now at our faces.
We came around a corner, I spotted something ahead, something large and black. I squinted to get a better look and than stopped in my tracks and pointed it out to Gary. "Uh, is that a bear?" The answer was yes! It was sniffing around right where I stubbed my toe. Probably licking up the blood looking for this injured animal, already drooling in anticipation over his next meal-ME!
As we stood there watching this beast roam around completely in our way and seemingly unaware of our presence, the only logical option we had, in my opinion, was to run it off. We couldn't go another route, there wasn't one.
So, I let out "THE CAPTAINS ROAR!" However, given the target of my roar (a 400+ lbs Black Bear), I probably sounded more like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert.
The bear spun around and imediately started sprinted straight for us like Usain Bolt in a fur coat, with five daggers in each hand and fangs that could rip through the thick hide of a moose.
Although that description does paint an intersting picutre I don't feel like it does the beast true justice, so lets just say it was running at us like: A 400LBS BLACK BEAR!!!
Having just made some new Nisga'a friends in Kinkolith, some words that the wise First Nations folk spoke stood out in my mind.
-If you come across a Black bear, stand your ground and look it in the eyes, try to look big and don't back down.
-If you come across a Grizzly, put your head between your legs and kiss your tookass goodbye. Or you can back away slowly keeping your head down and never look it in the eyes.
I knew right away that it was a Black bear so I reluctantly planted my feet, put my hands in the air, looked it in the eyes and stood my ground. Gary followed suit.
"WHAT DO WE DO WHAT DO WE DO?" Gary asked.
"WE ARE DOING IT!" I replied.
The bear kept coming and picked up speed as it did. The closer it got, the heavier my jogging shorts became until finally about 50 feet away it hit the brakes, sized us up, backed off a bit and than came at us again even closer this time. He was drooling and huffing and really really mad.
I don't know what my pulse was at the time but I am guessing somewhere between 150-180 million.
The bear hung around in this fashion for about 15 minutes and we just stood our ground. Eventually he started to back off until there was a comfortably gap between us, but he was still hanging around.
Suddenly I heard a faint rumble and a Volkswagon van appeared with two American tourists in it asking for directions.
"Hey how do you get to the Cranbery Junction? Oh and by the way there is a large Black bear just back that way."
So we agreed to give them directions in exchange for a ride back past the bear-A fair trade!
When we arrived back at camp, I changed my shorts and than russelled up some grub and wondered what would have happend if the VW van didn't show up.
I love tourists!
Until next time, Keep on adventuring,