In the wilderness lies the preservation of the world.
Henry David Thoreau

Back to Real Life – Grizzlytour Day 7

We imagined this morning to be very different. Of course, we knew that time would be against us, but we didn’t know that it would be so hard to leave. In the dark, we break down our tents and the camp. Our plan: Five people will take the motor boat out of the fjord, where the water taxi will pick us up, and four will take rubber dinghies down the Toba. The only problem: since the Big Toba and the Little Toba River have a very low water level, we land on a sand bank and are blocked by a tree trunk in the middle of the river. So we have to carry all of our things through the 4 degree cold Little Toba, with water up to our chests. A huge task. It’s raining, and also the air temperature is chilly. A cold wind whips across the motor boat. Halfway down, we cross the people in the rubber dinghy, who are enjoying the peace and quiet and the breathtaking atmosphere as they slowly float towards civilization. We did not see any bears because we were too early in the season, but we saw a lot of tracks and evidence that bears live here, and we were amongst them. And one other thing becomes clear: we have changed our behavior out here. Not only because we are in the home of animals like grizzlies, cougars and wolves, but also because here we are at the mercy of nature. No buildings offer protection from rain or storms, we have to learn how to survive out here.  And even if we did not see a bear, the experience was unique and incredible. And precisely in that moment, as we turn around the last curve of the Toba Valley, a small grizzly runs from the sand bank on the shoreline into the forest. We only see it for a couple of seconds and there is no time for a photo. But – we saw it. It’s difficult to imagine a better conclusion to this trip. The water taxi takes us to Campbell River, from there we go to Nanaimo, with the ferry to Vancouver and to our accommodations. Most of us shower and fall into bed, as others head to East Vancouver where a friend of Joschi’s owns a bar. This is how fast it goes: from the absolute wilderness back into the reality of life in a big city.

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