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25

We sight a bear

You will never forget the first bear you see in the wild. In our case, it is

straightaway a grizzly, the king of the Canadian forest. Scientific name:

Ursus arctos horribilis. From an inside flat-bottomed boat, we look at

the strong animal on the bank in awe. We can clearly see the impressive

muscles bundled between its shoulder blades. The bear quietly nibbles on

the rocks and feasts on the many mussels that hang above the water at

low tide, ready to eat. A bit further along, a female bear trudges through

the high sedge grass. "It's Lilian," says Sarah. Lilian? "Yes, we know most

of the bears who stay here and give them names so that we can talk to

each other about them. It is important that we know how the animals are

doing.” There is obviously a great love between the guides and the bears.

Sarah gets out of the boat and gently pulls it as close as possible to the

shore. The bear takes no notice and grazes on unperturbed. Suddenly,

the heads of her cubs appear in the grass. We count three. The colour of

their still fuzzy fur differs. The darkest cub is the daredevil of the trio. He

tumbles through the grass, continually stays at a further distance from his

mother than his brother or sister, daringly dangles from a branch which

he immediately bounces off again, and creeps awkwardly over every tree

stump he encounters. It is an entertaining spectacle and we stay close

to them for nearly half an hour. It is pure pleasure to see the animals

engaging so easily in their natural habitat. “A bear puts a smile on your

face”, says Sarah. Although we can imagine situations where this may not

be the case, at this moment we fully agree with her.

Exploring on foot

"What should we do if we encounter a bear along the way?" We are

starting on the 'Cedar Trail' and that means that we will hike on foot

to the highest point in the pine forest. “Pay close attention to the body

language” is the dry answer. Mike, however, may talk easily thanks to

all his knowledge about the behaviour of brother bear, but we have no

idea how we should interpret that non-verbal communication. Well, if

the bear raises his hind legs, it is clear that he is not in the best mood,

but apart from that, we have no idea. "Could you perhaps give us some

useful tips?” we try again. “Keep calm, talk softly so that the bear knows

that you are a human being and not an animal and if necessary, quietly

step backwards.” Ok, that’s more useful. “Especially don’t run,” Mike

adds, “a bear can reach speeds of 55 kilometres per hour and is faster

than a racehorse.” Our walk through the forest is so beautiful that our

attention soon only focuses on the surrounding nature. Because of the

large amount of moss and the thick foliage, the subsoil flexes with every

step. It is a tough climb, but at the top, our effort is more than rewarded.

A wonderful panorama unfolds. The immense cedar forest and the milky

blue fjord spreads out under our feet.

Cedar Trail, Knight Inlet