The other day we were in Canada, actually it’s quite a while. To be more precise, we went to the Yukon Territories near Whitehorse. We had rented a blockhouse at Sonja, very idyllic with a view of the Takhini River. Sonja also has a cabin on the same site where she lives permanently. She is German and had emigrated to Canada many years ago. During the four weeks we had our base with her, she was visited by former friends from Bavaria. A couple around fifty and quite pleasant. The woman’s name was Silke and she was pretty and slender. The man was a big bullish Bavarian and was called Wolf. Well, actually he was Wolfgang, as we heard from Sonja, but since he was a Western fan, he insisted on the abbreviation of his name. I had wondered why he was wearing a cowboy hat and a leather vest with fringes when he got out of the rental car.
Already the first evening Sonja invited us to have dinner with her and her friends, which we gladly accepted but also soon repented, because Wolf’s speech flow was very considerable.
So it was necessary to firmly brake him in his flow of speech, otherwise it would have been impossible to get a word in edgewise
He told one wilderness story after the next and in each he played the leading role, of course as a hero, what else? We others, who have finally experienced a lot and had a lot to tell, hardly had a chance to say anything. You know these people, who like talking all the time and whose stories are often very easy to see through.
Nevertheless, we arranged to make a trip to the Fishlake with Sonja, Silke and Wolf. Sonja briefly mentioned that we should protect us from the many mosquitoes- and there were of course, grizzlies. At the word grizzly, Wolf suddenly became very thoughtful and quiet. Sonja noticed this and explained that the bears usually avoid people, provided they attract their attention through singing and speaking.
The next morning we all climbed into Wolf’s black jeep and drove the few miles up to the entrance into the path leading to the Fishlake and onto a mountain nearby. We got out and wanted to leave when we realized that Wolf was still sitting in the car. We asked him what was wrong and he explained that he was allergic to mosquito bites and did not want to go with us. Sonja offered him some spray, which he did not accept, because he could not tolerate it. So we left him in the car and set off on our own. Three women and a man, good-humored and full of anticipation fora lovely hiking trip. Silke soon made some unfavorable remarks about her Wolf.
“Well, I’m sure he will tell some great stories at home in the club again, how he walked through an area literally teeming with grizzlies.”
Soon Sonja showed us the first fresh trace of a bear.
“Here was a Grizzly recently,” she said. “We should talk a bit louder now.”
We did, and the bear did not show up.
We had a very nice day, took a picnic on the mountain with a view of the Fishlake and forgot almost Wolf, who was waiting for us in the car. After more than five hours, we came back happily to him again, but had to realize that he was totally offended. We would have stayed far too long, he said, and he had been sitting in the car all the time. Well, that was his own fault.
One day Wolf read a report in the newspaper about a jogger who had been attacked and killed by a black bear. Such attacks occur in the Yukon every now and then, because there are bears that follow people into civilization and feed on waste. These bears are unfortunately disturbed in their behavior and can occasionally become dangerous. But this is rarely the case.
Wolf, in any case, seemed to be concerned with the fear and explained that he would rather go to Whitehorse in a hotel. As a reason for this, he stated that it was too difficult for him to go into the small grove behind the hut when he wanted to go to the toilet. There was the toilet cottage, a little off the log cabin.
No sooner said than done. Wolf and Silke moved to the Gold Rush Inn Hotel in Whitehorse at the same hour. Sonja had some pleasure in making fun of Wolf and we also found that he was a bit exaggerating and that he made a mountain out of a molehill
The next day, we saw Sonja coming out of her cabin, laughing, showing a newspaper.
“Look at it!” She cried and came towards us. I picked up the paper and there it said in big letters:”Three Black Bears strolling through Whitehorse.” The report then said that three black bears had entered the city and had strolled through the streets for a while before settling in front of the entrance of the Gold Rush Inn. There they were then expelled by the police and trolled back into the forest.
We figured out with a certain mischievous glee, how Wolf had sat in his room, shivering, unsafely and full of fear stammering, „Oh my God, let’s get out of here!“
“He should be happy,” Sonja laughed. “There’s something he has to tell at home. And this time the story is true and he can take the newspaper as proof. This increases his credibility! ”
A few days later Sonja was amused by her “friend”, especially because she had learned that Silke and Wolf had flown back to Germany the next day.
©Bernd Riebe – Translated from Neulich – Drei Schwarzbären in Whitehorse
Fotos by ©Xenia Marita Riebe