At Wild Water Adventures, a whitewater rafting company offering Kicking Horse River rafting trips in the Banff, Lake Louise and Golden, BC areas, the most commonly asked question (next to, “will I fall out of the raft?”) is, “Will I see a bear?”
While some people ask the question with a degree of concern in their voices, perhaps hoping that the answer will be “no”, the vast majority of our guests would love the opportunity to see a bear in the wild, alongside the Kicking Horse River during their rafting trip.
While we have often seen bears in, alongside or on the way to the river, there have been many memorable encounters. Here’s our favorite three.
- Our Base Manager, “Cookie”, was preparing for the afternoon rafting trip to return to our RiverBase and, as usual, had pre-measured several cups with instant hot chocolate powder and set them on the serving table for our driver to quickly serve to our guests. Cookie headed upstairs to get a few last minute supplies, and when she came back down to the front of the RiverBase, an adolescent Black Bear had found the cups with the hot chocolate and was licking up the last of the sweet and chocolaty powder from each cup! Once finished, the bear headed off into the woods…but he would return!
- Later on that spring, Carlos, one of our rafting guides who hails from Costa Rica, had returned to start work and had brought with him some of his favorite Salsa from his home country. One day, while Carlos and the other team members were away from the base, the black bear, who we now named “Sniffy” for his habit of “sniffing” around our RiverBase, got into Carlos’ trailer and into his prized salsa that he had brought all the way from Costa Rica! Funny thing was, Carlos had several types of Salsa in his trailer, but Sniffy had good taste and ate only the most expensive, imported one…then quietly left without disturbing anything else!
- That winter, we went out to check on the RiverBase in mid-February to see if all was well. After trudging down the snow-covered driveway, our hearts stopped when we realized that one of the panes of glass in our front door had been broken. We thought for sure someone had broken the glass to reach in and unlock the door. We were surprised to find that the door was still locked, and other than the broken glass, there were no signs of entry. We noticed a few long, black hairs still on the frame of the door where the glass was broken. At first, we thought that it must have been one hairy dude that broke the window and lost a couple of arm hairs in the process. But, upon closer inspection, we noticed that on a pane of glass further above the broken one, there was a very noticeable “smudge”, as if someone, or something, had pressed their nose against the glass. We deduced that it was once again Sniffy the Bear who had stood up on his hind legs to peer in the door, and when he braced himself with his front paws against the door, he broke through the pane of glass!
Yes, there are bears in the Canadian Rockies, and at Wild Water, we’ve got some great stories to share, and, I’m sure, some more to come this summer!