Cinnamon

Cinnamon black bear munching on grass at the roadside, the third of four bears we saw on a mini road trip back in June

I love seeing bears in the wild, and despite the years of hiking and backpacking in North America (totalling close to 500 hikes), we’ve seen way more bears from the car than on foot. I can think of maybe 10 occasions that we saw a bear on the trail, and maybe only about half of those could be classified as encounters, the others being merely sightings at a distance.

The challenges of taking a good bear photo from the car include being able to shoot through an open window (without getting someone’s head or part of the door mirror in the frame), holding the camera steady enough in a car whose engine is still running (tip: don’t lean on the car!), and other passengers shifting around in the car! If you can deal with that, then you can be sure the camera will decide to focus on the grass instead of the bear… Thankfully in this case, the depth of field was just enough to keep the bear in focus too.

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A bear walks into a bar…

Waiting for service… Flashback Friday to May 2007 and a road trip to Port Renfrew, where we rounded a bend and spotted this bear wandering along the shoulder. He (?) stopped to check us out, placed his paws on the barrier as if waiting for a drink, before getting up onto the barrier and walking along it for a moment until startled back into the forest by the next car.

We’d just bought our shiny new compact superzoom Canon S3IS and I was more than happy to make use of the long zoom to get this photo. Sadly, once I got home and looked at the photos on our computer monitor, this photo also alerted me to how bad the colour fringing was on high-contrast edges (look at the edge of the road for an example – and that’s after a bit of processing). A lot of it can be taken out with “purple fringing” corrections, but it’s hard to get rid of all of it. Sure, I’d read the reviews that mentioned this aberration, and figured I could live with it. Looking back, that was really the time we should have gone straight to buying an SLR, instead of making-do with the inferior compact camera image quality.

But, having said all that, I still really like this and the other photos I took at the time. It’s quite the memory, and possibly our most fun bear encounter.

Bears in a tree

Bear! Where? Up there! A mother and cub in a ponderosa pine. Bears have been visiting Hardy Falls for the past several years, and the park is usually closed at this time of year to let them feed in peace on the kokanee salmon that spawn in the creek

In September 2011, one of our contacts on Flickr had posted photos of bears near Hardy Falls, and after our annual visit to Naramata for wine, dance, and music we called in to see if we could catch a glimpse. Well we got more than a glimpse! Within minutes of our arrival, a bear ran along the top of the canyon rim, down to the creek and across before racing straight up one of these big pines. What we didn’t see was the other bears with it – turns out we’d spotted (and been spotted by) a mother and her two cubs. The second cub had clambered up a different tree. It was the first time we’d seen a bear climb a tree and we were immediately in awe of its abilities.

Satisfied with that encounter, we left the bears alone and carried on up the creek past the spawning salmon to visit the waterfall. On our way back down another bear ventured down into the canyon, running across the path not 10 metres ahead of us! It disappeared into the bushes to our right though we did see it again briefly as it paused by a fallen log. We walked on out back to the car and the long drive back to Vancouver. Every year since then the park has been closed to allow the bears to feed in peace.

Who goes there?

Who goes there? Bear! Prelude to probably the best bear encounter we’ve had. It was quite something to be stopped on the road and have a mother bear wander back and forth between the cars to find tastier berries.

I don’t know how long we were stopped for, but it felt like an age as we sat in the car and watched this mother bear and her three cubs feeding by the roadside. Traffic was at a complete standstill, and the road was completely blocked by cars (including a tour bus); people had just stopped in the road to watch. It was a mesmerizing experience, but I worry about the cubs in situations like this as they are likely to grow up thinking that cars stop for them.

Eventually a gap opened up in front of us and we moved on to Maligne Lake for our boat tour (see the previous entry).

Bear crossing

Why did the bear cross the road? Probably to escape the camera-wielding tourists…

Yet another photo from our 2011 visit to the Rockies. We spotted this bear along the road between Jasper and Pyramid Lake, and of course had to pause long enough to get a photo or two. While it looks like the bear is crossing the road, it’s actually walking through an empty parking lot so there was a good distance between us. It looked our way for a few seconds before taking off into the forest.

Beach bear

It’s waterfall/wildflower/wildlife Wednesday, so I’m posting one of each from our recent Cape Scott trip. If you go down to the beach today, you’re in for a big surprise… The two of us were just about to exit the forest as we reached Experiment Bight when we looked up and saw this bear digging in the seaweed on the beach, exactly where we were going to hike. It took over two minutes of bear-soothing chatter to get it to move along far enough for us to make a quick move over the shingle and out of its way. As it walked past, I swear it gave us the most reproachful look ever!

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It's waterfall/wildflower/wildlife Wednesday, so I'm posting one of each from our recent Cape Scott trip. If you go down to the beach today, you're in for a big surprise… The two of us were just about to exit the forest as we reached Experiment Bight when we looked up and saw this bear digging in the seaweed on the beach, exactly where we were going to hike. It took over two minutes of bear-soothing chatter to get it to move along far enough for us to make a quick move over the shingle and out of its way. As it walked past, I swear it gave us the most reproachful look ever! #wildlifewednesday #bear #blackbear #capescotttrail #capescottprovincialpark #experimentbight #hiking #backpacking #camping #optoutside #explorebc #explorevanisle #vancouverisland #bcparks

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It took us until our fifth day to see a bear. We’d had a close encounter of sorts at Nissen Bight, where a bear had ripped apart a log right next to the food cache while we were relaxing on the sand. I always want to see bears, but I have to admit this was about as close as I ever want to get to one. Even though this was a peaceful encounter (we had time to switch lenses on the camera!), there was always that thought at the back of my mind about dealing with an angry bear. Thankfully we just had to deal with a grumpy bear who just wanted to seek out breakfast. Once we were past we looked back to watch it dig into the next patch of seaweed in search of tasty morsels. Tasty to a bear, that is.

Peek-a-boo!

Munch, went the bear. This was going to be a Leave-No-Trace Tuesday post about not feeding wildlife after reading about that guy feeding a bear on the road to Tofino, but then midnight came and went and it morphed into a Wildlife Wednesday post instead 🙂

My parents are visiting for a week, and with a nice sunny day forecast I couldn’t resist taking them on a tour of the Sea-to-Sky highway up to Whistler. We drove up the Callaghan Valley road, ostensibly to visit Alexander Falls, but I had bear sightings at the back of my mind. I’ve driven up this road perhaps half-a-dozen times or more and only seen bears once before. Today we got lucky, and had the road to ourselves while we stopped to watch this bear munch away on the grass. That was good enough for us – and then we saw a second bear on the drive back down the road!