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Killarny Provincial Park: Bears and Breakfast
Killarny is one of my most favorite provincial parks in Ontario (http://www.ontarioparks.com/english/kill.html). It is about five and a half hours north of Toronto and perhaps two hours or less, south-west from Sudbury. The small town of Killarney is right on the Georgian Bay and so the harbor is busy in the summer. If you would like to have the best Halibut fish and chips in the world: you have to go there!
I have been there many times. I have stayed there a few days, a week, even longer. There are countless things to do: fishing, hiking, canoeing. There are trails one can cover in a few hours and then, there are week-long trails through the forest … I tried that, not very successfully due to lack of experience, proper equipment, lack of a map, etc. There are also portage trails. It would be an impossibility to go to Killarney Provincial Park and not have fun.
Even after my good buddy got woken-up by a bear mother and her cubs – he is still willing to go back. This summer for sure. That bear story is pretty funny because it was just so odd, everything.
I woke-up somewhat earlier and decided to go to the main showers/washrooms area of the park. I was too lazy that morning to take clean clothes, the shampoo, all the shaving stuff and walk with them so, I took the whole car with me. It was fairly early in the morning, perhaps seven o’clock or somewhere there.
When I came out of the shower I saw my buddy sitting on a wooden bench right in front of me, with an inflatable mattress on his lap. Many thoughts crossed my mind while I was trying to make sense of what I was seeing. Did he want to go to the beach that early? It wasn’t that hot … what was he doing with that inflatable mattress and why could he not wait for me to get back? I wasn’t gone for that long …
My friend is a straight-guy, he doesn’t smoke the funny stuff; no monkey-business, unless you give him three beers – then, he can eat a moth the size of your palm for five bucks … or just dare him. That morning though, he was sleeping when I left and he didn’t look drunk so, when I asked him what in the world he was doing sitting in front of the shower in his boxers, a T-shirt and with the inflatable mattress in his lap, he had to explain to me that he got woken-up by a mother bear and her cubs.
He said he heard some sniffing around the tent and thought it was raccoons so he hit the tent from the inside with his hand to make them go away. When they did not and the sniffing continued, frustrated he popped his head out only to see to one side of the tent a bear-mother and on the other side of the tent, three cubs. At this point, I am glad I have smart friends because he might have been turned to breakfast by the mother-bear.
He calmly got out of the tent, dragging his inflatable mattress along. He was talking, not screaming, slowly moving from the tent to the side of the camp site; not running or making any sudden and/or shaky movements. The vision of a bear is not the best. A man holding a mattress sideways may look like a big blob of moving “something” to a bear. We do not smell like food and we do not sound like food, when talking. If we do not seem aggressive or hostile, bears for the most part will just go on with their business as that mother ultimately did (with her cubs).
My buddy crossed a few camp-sites where everyone was still sleeping, figuring I had not gone too far and when he saw the car by the showers he just waited for me. Now, that is good thinking on his part. I am very glad he acted appropriately and I still have him in one piece to join me on further adventures. I might have gone back to sleep if I were him and just registered the sight of bears around the camp-site as a bad dream.
Note: My Photograph, Dokis First Nations, August, 2013