‘Wolf warning in effect’, read the poster at the start of the Rainforest trail we were about to walk. Supposedly, a pact of wolves was active in the area, showing bold behaviour towards people and dogs. There had been a number of recent attacks and therefore we were given advise on how to act if we were to come eye to eye with a wolf… or wolves. Most importantly, we were told to keep the ‘eye-to-eye’ contact – to not turn around or let alone run away! Then, to step backwards while raising our arms to make ourselves appear larger and let the wolves know who is boss by speaking to them in a loud, impressive voice… something I simply didn’t see myself pulling off. If the wolves would approach us despite these precautions, we were meant to throw sticks and stones at them. The last sentence of the warning poster gave me no peace of mind either: ‘If all else fails, then fight!’.
I was mentally prepared for possibly encountering bears in Canada, but not for facing wolves. I could not decide which of these predators I would rather cross paths with, but prayed that it wouldn’t get to that point. I held on tightly to the bear spray we had bought earlier that day and assumed that this would work on wolves as well. Furthermore, I put my trust in the small metal bells we had tied to our shoelaces. We were told that you are most at risk when you surprise the animals, and with these bells we could announce our arrival. Only later did we find out these bells actually attract bears and wolves, rather than repel.
The trail itself was fantastic. We walked on a wooden path which was raised a few feet from the ground, giving it an ‘amusement park’ feel to it. Everything around us seemed like a stage setting. From the ground to about two meters up, I would have believed it if someone had told me we were in the Amazone. It was wet and we were surrounded by moss, ferns and plants resembling banana trees. We also heard all kinds of tropical sounds, probably produced by various types of frogs and birds. Sticking out above, like skyscrapers, were tall Canadian coniferous trees. It was a true (non-tropical) rainforest, very surrealistic as it is something we did not expect to find in Canada. To be honest, it did turn out that half of the animal sounds we heard were actually coming from my mother’s peeping mountain shoes. But oh well, it wasn’t any less romantic.
The walk took only about 45 minutes and, my apologies for the disappointing clue to this story, we made it out safely without any life threatening encounters. We even had time left to go to the beach, do some more hiking and dip our feet in the ocean. Before us spread a beautiful picture of untouched sand and wild dunes. In the background, the violent ocean faded into misty blue mountains. We hoped we could find a campground with this ocean view for the night as well, so we started driving along the highway that followed the coast. We noticed a sign that said ‘Secret Campground’. This intrigued us so went up the dirt road that twisted and turned all the way over the top of one of the mountains. The campervan was shaking so much that all our pots and pans moved places. If there were any bears or wolves around at all, we would have certainly scared them away with the noise. Even though the route covered only 14kms, it took at least 30 minutes for us to get to the campground. It felt like we were ages away from any sign of civilisation. With only one other fellow campsite visitor there, we found a deserted spot between the trees with a private beach. They were quite right to call the campground secret. Although we didn’t leave the campervan all night – we were not yet adjusted to the idea that there were wolves around – the next morning started with an early dive in the cold, cold water, before continuing our road trip.
The pacific ocean