The dream expedition of a Colorado couple through the Canadian tundra turned into a life-threatening fear where they were pursued for 17 panic hours by a huge wild grizzly bear.
Kerri and Todd Mozinski, both retired veterinarians, have spent more than a year planning a 40-day canoe adventure where they paddle 500 kilometers of water through the Canadian tundra in July.
However, they were confronted with a more dangerous side of Mother Nature when on July 15, the fifth day of their expedition, they were approached by a grizzly bear on the banks of an Arctic river and the beast destroyed their camp and canoe, leaving them stranded.
& # 39; I got scared. And then we thought, "Where are we going and what are we going to do?" Kerri said to the Duluth News Tribune on their last hours with the bear before they were miraculously saved.
The Kerri and Todd Mozinski couple from Colorado were stalked in panic for 17 hours by a wild grizzly bear during their canoe trip in the Canadian tundra in July
The retired vets have spent a year planning a 40-day canoe trip. But their journey was interrupted when a wild grizzly bear approached them on July 15, the fifth day of their expedition, destroyed their sleeping tent and canoe and left them in the wilderness. Keri took this picture of the bear before they were saved
The couple said on their first day that they found bear paths near where they set up camp – a foreshadowing of the danger they would face later in the journey.
& # 39; We have landed and have landed all our gear, and the first thing we see are grizzly bear tracks, & # 39; Todd remembered.
During their expedition, they planned to travel from Sifton Lake in Northwest Territories to Canada Lake, an Inuit community in the territory of Nunavut.
Then, on their fifth day, they almost came face to face with a bear, who refused to leave the couple alone and remained on their heels for 17 unbearable hours.
& # 39; We checked the area – everything was fine, nothing to see, & # 39; said Kerri. But while they were eating outside their tent along the Hanbury River, they saw the bear approaching.
& # 39; (Todd) looks up at me, he looks behind me and he says & # 39; Grizzly & # 39 ;, Kerri remembered. & # 39; We jump up, we come out of the tent, we grabbed the bear spray. And the grizzly, he just got right into our little area and walked straight to the tent. & # 39;
The couple, armed with the bear spray, watched as the bear threatened to walk within 20 feet of the pair.
& # 39; He stood up and just towered over (Todd), & # 39; said Kerri. & # 39; He sniffed the air, he moved his mouth and pulled his lips back. We could see his teeth and things. & # 39;
The duo sprayed the grizzly twice with bear club, but it refused to withdraw. Instead, it hung around the camp and destroyed their canoe, leaving them no room to go
Terrified, Todd shot the bear, but that didn't scare the animal.
& # 39; He didn't like it. He lowered himself again and walked back a little. At that time, Todd said to get everything together because we were going to try to pick up and move so we could get out of the way, & Kerri said.
Kerri frantically started packing the tent and their gear, but the bear raised his head again, causing Todd to rinse it off with another spray.
Yet the grizzly bear refused to leave the camp.
& # 39; He sat down, then scratched and got up, and he just walked around the area and looked at us, trying to figure out what he was going to do now or how he would get our things, & # 39; said Kerri.
The couple packed as many things as they could and ran away with a pack of 80 pounds, a pack of 55 pounds, a pack of 20 pounds and two fishing rods hoping to shake the bear away.
After hours of packing their things and trying to shake the bear off their path, the couple had no choice but to call for help. But even in their last hours outside, the bear returned to mock them. The camp of Kerri and Todd pictured above
When they went to their sleeping tent, they discovered that the bear had already destroyed it, tore into the dust and broke the posts.
The couple ran away. When the bear was out of sight, they decided to return to fetch their canoe, realizing that they were locked up around a lake.
& # 39; We knew there was a lake at the end of the rapids. There was no place to go, & Kerri said.
But when they returned, they found the bear standing over the canoe, where he tore out the seats and shredded one of the life jackets and tore a hole in the hull.
& # 39; At the moment, we knew we could not continue because we had no boat, & # 39; said Kerri.
& # 39; He didn't come as close as he had done anymore, but he certainly looked at what we were doing and wanted to know what was going on, & she added.
Leaving in the wild with no place to go under the watchful eye of the massive grizzly bear, the couple had no choice but to call for help.
Kerri pressed the SOS button on her Garmin inReach Mini satellite communicator, which called local Yellowknife authorities to rescue them around midnight.
& # 39; They were very, very helpful and they were very, very fast &, "Kerri said. & # 39; I was contacted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and they told us to remain seated as long as we were safe and & # 39; in the morning (they would) have someone send out by plane or helicopter.
Without that smart piece of technology, the couple would have been stranded in the wilderness for a month.
& # 39; I think we would be in a real survival situation at that time, & # 39; Todd said. & # 39; Above all, you know, the bear has our tent and he has our canoe. I think we had a hard time. & # 39;
Kerri pressed the SOS button on her Garmin inReach Mini satellite communicator, which called local Yellowknife authorities to rescue them around midnight. The rescue helicopter arrived the next morning and flew them to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories for three hours
The couple had to wait all night for help. At first the bear disappeared, but the grizzly bear returned in the early morning while rescuers were away for hours.
& # 39; When we didn't see him all night, we thought: & # 39; Okay, this is good & # 39 ;, said Kerri. & # 39; When he came back for me at 6 am, I got scared. And then we thought, "Where are we going and what are we going to do?"
Fortunately the grizzly bear walked away and Kerri used the moment to take a picture of the beast.
Finally, a helicopter rescued the couple on July 16 and took them on a three-hour flight back to Yellowknife, the closest city in Canada.
& # 39; It was shocking, but the other thing was that it was beautiful too. It was an incredible animal and the tundra is just amazing, & she said.
Despite the bear fright that could have taken a life-threatening turn at any time, the couple say they are planning to complete their expedition again next year.
& # 39; I am not going to lie and say that I will be a little more vigilant. I don't know if there will be a few things that we will do differently with regard to equipment and such, but we discussed it and there was nothing else we could have done. & # 39;
& # 39; We were very lucky. Very happy, & Kerri said.
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