We followed a recommendation to Waitabit (Wait-a-bit) Creek Campground in Golden, BC Canada since that was on our way to the National Parks Banff and Jasper. It wasn’t just free, it was also of a rough beauty.
The creek ice cold and crystal clear with a fresh shade of teal was racing through a wide bed of round pebbles next to the campground. Conifers on both sides of the water and a large mountain hiding in thick clouds. Up the creek was a guy with a fishing pole. He seemed to be there all the time as if he was part of the picture “Lonesome fisher in Alaska”.
“This is Bear Country!” signs had welcomed us the previous weeks many times and many stories of black bears were told. On this camp spot we even had a tree with claw marks on the trunk and an orange band wrapped around it with the date June, 16th. It looked like a bear had been here a few weeks earlier to do its manicure.
Many people say, that black bears are actually not too dangerous. When they hear you coming, they take off. You can even buy bear bell bands for your ankle in BC in the grocery store. When ever I went outside at night for night sky pictures (without bells), there was only a faint grunt in the bushes needed to let me run back inside. Frog or bear, you never know.
The only actual bear sighting we had during those 5 weeks in Canada, despite all the warning signs, was a small black shadow on the side of the highway that was shaped like a baby bear and that moved like a baby bear. But not sure if it was a baby bear.
We finally wanted to see one, during the day and not at our camp site. Some companies offer bear watching tours, just like whale watching tours. But in Golden, BC you can just take the ski lift up Kicking Horse Mountain and you’ll find a large Grizzly Bear Refuge.
A black bear is one thing but a Grizzly! That’s a different story. Better don’t meet a Grizzly in the forest.
We wrapped ourselves in winter clothes since it was cold at the campsite and we could see mountains with snow from down there. With a lot of back and forth with the kids we managed to arrive (running) just in time for the lift to catch the last tour. Their first ski lift tour. If June’s rain boots would still be on her feet after the ride wasn’t sure.
‘Look at that!!’, she yelled and pointed behind us.
What a surprise! Such a gigantic rainbow!
After we got out of the lift, it was just a short walk uphill and we saw the fence and a group of people listening to the tour guide, a young lady with fancy sun shades and long hair. She said ‘Since I’m standing with my back to the fence, you’ll see Boo before I do. But just know, you’re not looking for a bear. You’re looking for bushes and trees rustling.’ Everyone stared at the trees in the fenced in area. A very large area. Boo, the Grizzly had this all to himself. A much better home than all Zoo Bears in the worlds, I’m sure.
‘Boo’s mom had another baby bear with her when she was seen next to a highway. A car stopped, the driver came out, shot the large bear and drove on, as bystanders had reported. They found out later that he was angry because he tried hunting black bears that day but was unsuccessful. Just because of that, he killed a grizzly mom and left her were she was. He had to pay a $6000 fine later. That’s it!’ the guide bristled with anger. I didn’t hear what happened with the other baby bear since Mika started rampaging and screaming. But Boo found a new home in this refuge. Mika stopped shaking the fence and I looked back into Boo’s garden.
A shaking bush behind the water hole!! A chunky brown head appeared and disappeared. More rustling and there he was. Sniffing around the water hole, disappearing once again in between the trees. The visitors were whispering. That was it, we had seen a Grizzly.
‘Don’t worry, he’ll be back. He’s a brag.’ said the bear guide.
And he really came closer, sniffing and eating grass, came even closer, came all the way to the fence! He was right there on the other side of the fence and here he apparently had his favorite tree. Boo clearly liked the attention. He even walked back with the group, on his side of the fence, when everybody had to go back to the lift to catch the last chance for a ride back down.
Here’s the all inclusive video even June’s first ever nail polish is in it. She got it from Melanie, a future owner of an Earthship in Golden. But that’s a different story and should be told another day.
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