There was indeed a bear right off the path. Two bears, mama and baby, and a real baby this time. On the way to the beach I had seen some scat on the boardwalk and thought, Wonder if that came from a bear, and kept going. That'll teach me to ignore the signs. I'd probably be toast in no time had I lived in frontier times. Little clogs of tourists were backing up on either side of where the bears were. I hung out with a friendly family from Holland, who had an absolutely petrified red-headed kid. I tried to cheer her up - "It's wild America!" (I forgot we were in Canada) - and let her use my binoculars, but she was so terrified that she was in tears. The bears had scaled a tree right next to the boardwalk, maybe two stories up, and were just sitting there, but the scene on the ground with the humans was becoming a bit of a circus. I wanted to get away, and I'm sure the bears wanted everyone to leave as well. Eventually I joined forced with the Dutch and we walked past. On my way past I flicked a glance up and Mama Bear was looking straight down on the boardwalk. If I had realized she was that close, I probably wouldn't have walked past. In retrospect, it was a dumb thing to do. She was huge. But check out how colossally stupid people are. I passed a guy with a fancy zoom lens. This was the conversation.
Me: I bet you can get a really good picture with that.
Him: But you can't see anything from here.
Me: If you walk fifty feet up, Mama Bear is staring straight down.
Him: Oh, really? (Starts walking forward)
Jesus people. There are signs all over the entire area with advice on what do to when faced with a bear (or wolf, or cougar), and take their picture isn't on the list. It was truly a buffet down there. Lots of little kids, and one dude who claimed to live near bears stood right under the tree to take photos. I went back to the visitor center to make sure a warden was on the way, and continued to the Bog loop hike to search for ferocious carnivores of a different kind, miniature sundews.