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8/25/2018 8:51 pm  #1

Bear Encounters?

I just finished watching that movie "Back Country" and it got me thinking about bears in the Park (no I'm not trying to start a debate as to the misrepresentation of bears in Algonquin).  In all the years of travel through all areas of the park, I've never been one to be overly concerned about bears.  We always practice good bear behavior when camping and know we take all precautions to avoid bear encounters, especially at camp.  I have a healthy respect for bears, but don't really "worry" about encounters. 

I guess I'm wondering if anyone here has had any bear encounters in the park (good or scary)?  I'm not really thinking about encounters in the car campgrounds, more in the interior.  I've only ever seen a handful of bears while traveling in the back country, and never actually had one on our site (at least that I know of...). 

Again, not looking to stir up a debate on bears, just interested in peoples experiences with them in the back country of Algonquin...


8/25/2018 10:18 pm  #2

Re: Bear Encounters?

Last year when I went on a solo trip, I had a bear visit my campsite when I was about to fall asleep in my tent. The bear scrounged around the site to see if he or she could find anything and eventually came right up to my tent and sniffed around. I have to admit that I was a little nervous but I quickly reasoned with myself that I was not in harm's way. My food was properly hung and I had nothing of scent inside the tent with me.

As I calmed down, I held onto my knife just in case anything happened but alas, the bear decided to leave me alone. This just simply reinforced how important it is to keep a clean campsite and that bears generally aren't out to harass you.

Last edited by Wilderness Trekkers (8/25/2018 10:19 pm)


8/25/2018 10:29 pm  #3

Re: Bear Encounters?

Last year my daughter went for a run on a logging road in the vicinity of big crow,
She came to a 90 degree turn in the road and as she turned into it a large black bear came around from the opposit side. I'm not sure who was the more perplexed, both forgot to be scared, Both stopped in their tracks, and both backed up a couple of steps, the bear was the first to high tail it back from where it came, Joyce turned to go back too, found her voice and from sheer shock decided to sing, loudly. This is so unlike her that wehave had many laughs about it.


8/26/2018 8:29 am  #4

Re: Bear Encounters?

My first solo trip I brought a food pack instead of a barrel, and when I checked in at Canoe Lake, they told me there's been daily bear disturbances in the Burnt Island region that summer (where I was camping), and that the bear was too large to relocate. I didn't end up seeing the bear, but that definitely got my nerves going for my first solo trip without a proper scent-proof barrel for my food.

Not in Algonquin, but in Killarney we followed very fresh, very large bear tracks on our last portage into Sandy Lake (1 campsite on the lake, pretty far in from the access point and very secluded). When we got to the site, there were all the typical signs that a bear had been here. To top it off, there was a rope hanging where someones food pack used to be.

I have a handful of bear related stories, but I've still never seen one with my own eyes. I'm really hoping I will someday soon though.. just hopefully from my canoe, not on my campsite

I'm also very adamant on keeping a clean camp and being extra cautious with scents. One rule I never go against is keeping the tent scent-free; I hang my clothes that I wore while cooking dinner, and nothing with any scent comes into the tent... other than maybe the whisky on my breath. Like Wilderness Trekkers story above, if a bear ever happens to stumble onto my campsite once night falls, I want to be absolutely sure that he has no incentive to try and get into my tent.

Trip Reports & Campsite Pictures

8/26/2018 9:20 am  #5

Re: Bear Encounters?

I have to admit that the thought does cross my mind from time to time about a bear coming into my site while I sleep.  I sleep in a hammock and I have this vision of waking up to a bear between my tarp and my hammock, sniffing at my butt or something... I'll be honest, that would scare the hell out of me...

     Thread Starter

8/26/2018 2:57 pm  #6

Re: Bear Encounters?

Steve, don't know if you remember Wildchild but Laurie used to post here on the old forum but she told a story of one night they were camped frontcounty in 1 of the campgrounds and a friend was in his hammock off to the side of the site.
Well I guess she heard something in the night and there was a bear on site stinging beside the hammock pushing it with his nose, sort of rocking the guy in the hammock. She may have yelled and I believe threw 1 of her sandals at it before they scared it off.
Guy in the hammock slept through the entire thing.

Yes I think of this story every night I climb into my hammock.


8/26/2018 6:35 pm  #7

Re: Bear Encounters?

I do remember Wildchild!  See that's the kind of thing that I would not want to have happen lol! 

     Thread Starter

8/27/2018 4:24 pm  #8

Re: Bear Encounters?

I always try to keep a clean campsite, but regardless have had a couple experiences over the years... The one that startled me:

I was on a trip with my two camping buddies, doing a 1km'ish portage...  When we were just starting the portage we passed a couple doing the first trip of their portage with their boat.  While doing the portage I got ahead of (separated from) my friends...  I was carrying a pack on back and front, plus holding paddles with both hands, so with the larger rocks on the portage I was paying attention to the ground in front of me, not my surroundings...  So about three quarters'ish of the way across I look up hearing a rustle, then approx 20 feet in front of me I see a bear that had just got onto the trail...  We both froze for a moment, seemed like a lot longer of course lol!  Then he simply ran off into the bush.  I yelled to my friends to give them a heads up, but they didn't hear me at all - You quickly realize how much the foliage can muffle sound...

When getting to the other end of the portage I see the fore mentioned couple's pack and food pack...  I'm not a bear expert, but I imagine the bear was investigating the unattended food pack scents...

Great thread, interesting reading some of the other stories here...:-)

PS - Call me silly, but I refuse to let myself watch 'Backcountry' (or Blair Witch) lol...  Don't think that would be good for my imagination at night lol...


8/27/2018 5:37 pm  #9

Re: Bear Encounters?

Ash wrote:

I was carrying a pack on back and front, plus holding paddles with both hands, so with the larger rocks on the portage I was paying attention to the ground in front of me, not my surroundings... So about three quarters'ish of the way across I look up hearing a rustle, then approx 20 feet in front of me I see a bear that had just got onto the trail... We both froze for a moment, seemed like a lot longer of course lol! Then he simply ran off into the bush.

EXACT same thing happened to me last September, except it was a moose instead of a bear, and I was travelling solo. And even though it was moose mating season, I remember thinking "thank god that wasn't a bear" lol

Trip Reports & Campsite Pictures

8/27/2018 6:16 pm  #10

Re: Bear Encounters?

Great stories!  The one time I ever had a bear in my site was actually in Killarney (I had forgotten about that one) and I was amazed at how quietly the bear moved through the forest.  This was in the fall too when there were all sorts of leaves on the ground. 

     Thread Starter

8/27/2018 7:56 pm  #11

Re: Bear Encounters?

I had my first bear encounter/experience earlier this month after spending a number of years in the backcountry and never actually seeing one.  I was backpacking from Rain Lake Access Pt and was at my first site of the trip at Islet Lake.  I had set up my site including hanging my rope for the food bag later.  A bear came crashing through the bush onto the trail just ahead of my site.  I yelled at it, blew my whistle and it took off.  I felt a mixture of excitement that I saw my first bear, and some fear because I am a solo female hiker and that bear was a lot bigger than me.  Later in the trip I was coming up the embankment of Brown Creek to the trail and there were two wolves on the trail about 20 feet in front of me.  They saw me and took off up the trail.  I gave them a few minutes head start and began hiking again.  As I kept walking I could see the tail end of them.  I started singing songs and making noise so they knew I was still around.  When I arrived at the sites at Brown Lake I could hear the wolves howling in the bush.  I rarely see anything in the backcountry beside chipmunks, squirrels etc so this trip was extremely memorable for me.


8/27/2018 8:26 pm  #12

Re: Bear Encounters?

Wow sounds like quite the trip to the park! 

     Thread Starter

8/28/2018 8:10 am  #13

Re: Bear Encounters?

I've had a bunch of bear encounters, 2 in APP and 3 (possibly 4) in Killarney. I have posted some of this before, but here goes...

My first encounter in APP was during a spring solo hike on the Western Uplands trail. I was practically at my day's destination of East End Lake when something rustled near the lake. I stopped and two cubs climbed a dead tree, all the while looking at me and making noise. This certainly got my heart pounding. I was hemming them in from where I stood, and moving forward would get me even closer. I decided to backtrack and took a route to the south and camped at West Opperpaw Lake instead. I never saw the mother, but I'm pretty sure she saw me!

The second time was a morning at Faya Lake on the Highland trail. I only heard a splash, but my friend's eyes said it all as he described seeing a bear get out of the lake and head inland. I found out later that there had been more (and closer) bear sightings at this site.

As for Killarney, that place seems to be crawling with them. Lots of bear scat on the Lacloche trail, and I ran into a bear both times climbing Silver Peak. One time I hiked right past it and it was my wife who called out 'bear!' It was perched higher up on the rocks by the trail, casually watching us as we passed. The next year I ran into a bear again in almost the same spot, except closer yet. It was right on the trail and it sauntered off without a care. I've got a feeling it was the same bear both times, and when I spoke to a couple of parks workers near the summit they knew of it and didn't seem concerned. We also saw a younger bear hightail it off the trail early on in the same hike. Finally, we ended up car camping one night in Killarney to delay a hike as it was pouring most of the day. We were warned by fellow campers that a young bear was snooping around in the area and I awoke at night to hear some loud sniffing around our tent. I'm not 100% certain it was a bear, but I really didn't feel like finding out!



8/28/2018 3:34 pm  #14

Re: Bear Encounters?

I have been camping in the park 17-18 times.  Maybe 20 at this point.
Only twice have I ever seen a bear and both times they have been 200-250 yards away walking through super shallow marshy areas on the shore or just in the sludge.  It's been cool since we could watch them walk or run for 10-20 seconds until they got into the forest and we haven't had a "close encounter".
While car camping back in 1993 or 94 with my aunt, uncle and mother we were three sites away from a big bear trap because a bear had been frequenting the car sites there.  The women were a little unnerved to say the least!


8/29/2018 11:20 am  #15

Re: Bear Encounters?

The only potentially ugly encounters were with bears I never saw.  On my very first trip, maybe 1980, three scouts in an aluminum Grumman came around a bend on one of Algonquin's s-cure rivers.  Lots of alder(?) so you couldn't see the land, but just feet from our canoe and behind the alder we heard a huge growl, I guess a bluff charge.  We lit into those paddles like you can't believe.  Two days ago we had a great encounter that could have gone ugly, but you'll have to wait for the trip report! 

Now.  I took my wife on a June trip in 2000.  Night one, Shirley Lake.  We're dozing off in the tent, and I could hear something outside the tent.  A chipmunk sounds like bigfoot in the stillness of night, so I could never be sure, but I could hear some breathing and sniffing around just outside the tent.  I thought maybe raccoon but probably bear because there was some depth to the sound.  I didn't say anything so as to not alarm Lisa, but she says "do you hear that?"  "Yes I do." (See how well I handled that?)  I devised a brilliant plan, but did not tell Lisa.  I would whap the side of the tent really hard and scare off whatever it was.  I was on my back, so I laid my right hand across my chest, to make sure that when I came across to whap the side of the tent, I would be doing it as hard as I could.  Really gonna scare this bear off.  I couldn't see anything, so I really had to reach to make sure I'd catch as much tent as possible.  I executed my move......and instead of feeling the tent, all the back of my hand felt was nose, mouth, and teeth: Lisa's.  She yelled "OWW!!!!!!!!!".   It was obviously her fault, she should have been sleeping on my left side instead of my right.  Duh.  Still, I took the high road, and immediately yelled "SORRY!  SORRY!  SORRY!  SORRY!  SORRY!"  

We never heard another sound for the rest of the night.  She was a little upset at the time, but I protected her, so she should have been grateful, and bonus, she still has all her teeth.


8/29/2018 7:22 pm  #16

Re: Bear Encounters?

dontgroandaddy, that's the best laugh I've had all day! Well played....


8/30/2018 7:02 am  #17

Re: Bear Encounters?

Had a run-in a few years back portaging out of a lake, came around a bend and the bear was already standing with it's ears up, looking at me.  There was a few moments where we just stared at each other, then I bent down, picked up a branch and started banging it against the side of the canoe I was carrying.  That was enough and it bolted, problem is, had it bolted towards me, I might have had enough time to lift maybe one arm in front of me before it would have reached me, it moved that fast... 
This past June, bushwhacking to a lake, we had one following us and hanging around, just before each encounter, we'd run into fresh bear sign, freshly stripped bark from trees, pine needle carpets flipped over etc... in the end we made enough noise that it wandered away but repeatedly running into it did not give me the warm and fuzzies....

And because dontgroandaddy opened the door:  Years ago during a couples party weekend at Sec, one of the lads stumbled over to the neighboring campsite (so many of us we had to split up the group) late at night.  He rooted around, making grunting noises until someone in a tent heard it and started screaming IT'S A BEARRR!  Chaos ensued and he ran back to our campsite laughing so hard he couldn't breath.  Early the next morning there was some karma when a couple of guys from the neighboring campsite snuck into ours, stole the lads canoe and left it anchored out in the middle of the lake.  He had to swim out to get it but because of the hangover, never noticed the rock anchor behind him and spent an hour slowly struggling to paddle it back to shore, we waited till he made it back and then pointed it out to him....


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