It started hard and got harder. I couldn’t ascend the class III river with steep banks and was forced to bushwhack my way out to a road. I walked along a highway until I reached Salem Lake and could rejoin a calmer section of the Clyde. All the while – it was raining.
I had passed Pensioner Pond around 5 p.m. thinking that I would have time to navigate the fens and find a campsite further on. The sun was going down when I found a VT farmer’s field alongside the river. Thinking I might have an interaction with a cow or two in the morning I went to bed.
About 20 minutes later I awoke to the sound of someone or something shuffling around my tent. Initially I thought it was a raccoon. Then I heard more rustling around my boat and down around some felled trees. Ok, a family of raccoons. Then I heard the sounds of a large rotted tree branch being torn apart by someone looking for food.
My food was stored in the stern compartment of my boat but there was a snickers wrapper in the front of my life jacket. I could hear the bear investigating my boat. They were knocking around the paddles and the pulleys on my pin-kit make a very distinct noise. Most disconcerting however was the snorting, grunting and lip smacking going on right outside my tent door. I hoped my to instill a defensive reaction from these visitors so I began talking slowly and softly. “Hey bear….hi bear…..go away bear…..”. To be honest my responses were a little meek. As I moved to get into a more “defensible” position I shifted on my incredibly squeaky and insanely loud sleeping pad. The crunching noise punctuated a relatively silent night and these animals took off running. They came back one more time perhaps out of curiosity but again the sleeping pad drove them away. I waited. They didn’t come back a third time. Off in the distance I heard a pack of coyotes yipping and howling in celebration. When I awoke in the morning my pfd and skirt had been removed from the boat and were laying in the grass nearby.