By the end of September, bears are usually tucked away in caves or holes in the ground, slumbering peacefully in hibernation. That’s why, Mary Maley, an experienced camper, thought nothing of embarking on a long solo kayaking trip in Alaska a few days ago. She began in Ketchikan, and made it a whole 278 miles to a US Forest Service cabin in Berg Bay, where she planned to stay the night, when a giant brown bear emerged from the woods nearby.
Mary had just finished lugging all of her camping gear from the water’s edge, where her kayak lay, to the cabin where she began eating her lunch, when she heard the bear. The dangerous animal was positioned directly between the kayak and Mary, about twenty feet away and was lumbering ominously towards her. A well-informed hiker, Mary knew what to do to protect herself. She climbed up onto the nearest object she could find to make herself look larger and began to emit as much noise as possible to try to scare the bear away.
Since she had been holding her phone at the time of the attack, she turned on the camera and began filming the bear’s approach, shouting at him all the while. To her relief, he shortly turned away from her and seemed about to leave, but then, a rising feeling of terror took over her body. The bear’s attention had been drawn to her green kayak, which was still resting by the water’s edge.
The ear-splitting dread in Mary’s voice while she screams at the wild animal that cannot understand what she has to say, and likely wouldn’t care if he could, will set every bone in your body on edge. Fearing for her physical safety, Mary couldn’t leave her safe spot by the cabin, but she also knew that if the bear tore up her kayak with his strong claws, she was a goner. The terror in her voice is unbearable as she is left with no choice but to plead with the bear to stop clawing up her only means of escape.
After taking his time destroying her boat, the bear finally leaves. A distraught Mary, quickly gathered her wits about her, and realizing that the sailboat anchored way out in the bay was her only chance at survival, she turned off her video camera and left her phone by the cabin, then swam out in the freezing cold water toward the boat. Luckily for Mary, the occupants of the S/V Caledonia spotted her and pulled her from the bay, before transporting her and her belongings to a nearby town where she could have her kayak repaired.
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