Updated: Jul 27
With two months to go before heading to Seattle, there was still an avalanche of things to do. Except for the dry suit, I am nowhere near ready with all the items I needed for cold weather paddling. Unlike the Puerto Rico circumnavigation, I’ll need a sleeping bag for the cold nights, layers of warm clothing for the day, and something for the rain as well when I am confined to the shore.
All that takes up a lot of space and space is a premium commodity in a kayak. The sleeping bag is particularly volumous. Even when I stuffed it into a compression sack and crushed it as tightly as I could, it was still bigger than the bag I use for the tent.
“Where am I going to keep this? It’s too wide to fit through the front hatch.” I shouted out loud trying to ram it in.
After admitting defeat, I was resigned that it would need to go inside the stern hatch, which is where I normally keep the kayak dolly which also takes up a lot of space. Somehow, I delivered a miracle akin to beating the game of Tetris . Into the stern hatch went the tent poles, the tent bag, two drybags of food, the folded kayak dolly with the wheels and lastly the massive sleeping bag all neatly and tightly tailored together. When I closed the lid, I paused to admire my invisible finished work. Nothing to see from the outside, yet incredibly complex just under the surface, like the circuitry of the latest and greatest smartphone.
At that moment, I got a message from my mother. “Did you know there are bears on Vancouver Island?”
I picked up the phone and called to calm her fears.
“Yes, I know, it will be fine, as long as I don’t keep the food in the tent. In fact, what people do is they hang the food in a bag from a tree limb with a rope, and then the bear won’t get to it.”
“OK, but what if your food is not what the bear is interested in, what if they think you’re the food? The Bears up there aren’t the timid black bears you saw cycling in Colorado, they’re big mean grizzly bears, and they won’t be scared of you. Maybe you should take a gun with you.”
“I’m not taking a gun with me. I don’t even know how to use one, and what do I tell the Mountie Police at the border when I cross into Canada, and he sees I’m packing a 9mm? “It’s for the bears?” That will go over as well as it sounds.”
“What can you take with you then?”
“I’ll buy some bear spray.”
“Does it work?”
“It’s bear spray, it’s in the name.”
“Ok then, take like ten with you.”
“Mom, I’m not going to a bear disco party. Two will do. One for a bear, and one for a mountain lion if I come across one.”
“There are lions there too??? Oh god. Take at least three then.”
Later that day she sent me a YouTube video of a bear grabbing a box of bird seeds that had been hanging from a rope high up on a tree.
“Just so you know…”
Sea kayak Vancouver Island Circumnavigation