9 — The Ballad of Mount Doogie Dowler
Seth [00:00:14] Honestly, like if you asked me, like, what is the most interesting story you know? My answer would probably be my best friend’s brother in law was attacked by a bear. A few years ago, I was hanging out with my very, very, very, very good friends, Ben and Melanie and Mel, who grew up on Quadra Island in northern British Columbia, started to tell me and my wife Lauren a story about how her brother Colin was recently attacked and viciously mauled by a grizzly bear while trying to climb a mountain, Mount Doogie-Dowler, which was named after their grandfather. Do you remember telling me the story?
Melanie Dowler [00:00:57] I do. I do remember telling you, Yeah.
Seth [00:01:00] This is my friend Melanie Dowler.
Melanie Dowler [00:01:02] I think you were pretty amazed, like it held the table. You know, we talked about it and it sort of has that tendency. Yeah. And I- one thing I do remember is in the morning, Lauren, she said, like, I was just thinking about it all night, like, Oh my gosh.
Seth [00:01:20] As I heard more details of the story, like I said, it became one of the most incredible things I’d ever heard in my entire life. I’ve met a lot of people who’ve done a lot of shit in my life. I don’t know anyone who’s experienced anything remotely close to what Colin experienced that day. So I asked Colin, Will you come on my podcast and will you tell me the story? And thank God he said yes. Strap yourselves in for The Ballad of Mount Doogie-Dowler.
Singers [00:01:55] Story time. Story time. Yeah.
Seth [00:02:05] Explain to me kind of where you live, how you got there, just who, who is Colin, you know? n
Colin [00:02:10] All right. Well, I mean, you know I’ve put some thought into that recently. I’m a hunter and a fisherman, and I love the outdoors. Quadra Island, where I grew up, at the time had a little over 1000 people. It did have paved roads, but they’re pretty crude paved roads where most of the population is. The north end of the island was quite wild. To give an idea, my youth in the 80s was on Quadra and there was one three year period that there was 18 cougars removed from the island by parks.
Seth [00:02:47] Wow.
Colin [00:02:48] So they were just kind of around, but there was always a neat cougar story. Nobody ever got attacked. We had some TV. The old two and a half channels. CBC and then I think three and 11 that were often the same thing and you went to the one that was less fuzzy. Until our antenna and would blow off the house and then there was no fixing that in the winter. So long and short of it, not much of a reader, I spent a lot of time messing around outdoors.
Seth [00:03:18] In view of Mountain Doogie-Dowler. Why does your grandfather have a mountain named after him? I feel like I have to ask.
Colin [00:03:26] He had moved there in around 1956. Local postmaster and grocery store owner and just did really well by the community and set a good community standard.
Paul Dowler [00:03:38] Our grandfather kind of was a pioneer there.
Seth [00:03:42] This is Colin’s older brother, Paul Dowler.
Paul Dowler [00:03:44] He ran the local grocery store, him and my grandma, which had the post office and obviously groceries. They had gumboots and and things that kind of people would need, fishermen that worked there and that kind of thing. And he kind of set up a fire department there. Volunteer fire department. He played in a in the local band and he was a really cool, cool guy.
Seth [00:04:08] The store the Doogie Dowler ran was incredibly important for the community. It was like a little community center. How did you meet Colin?
Jen Dowler [00:04:16] I actually worked at his family’s grocery store.
Seth [00:04:20] Really?
Jen Dowler [00:04:21] So, yeah,.
Seth [00:04:23] Colin actually met his wife at this store.
Jen Dowler [00:04:28] I’m Jen Dowler, Colin’s wife. So he would come through the till and I had got wind that he had some crab and he was that he was offering up to people. And when he came through my till, I was like, So where’s my crab? And he took that as I was hitting on him and came over and cooked me crab that night and I couldn’t get rid of him.
Seth [00:04:51] And if that ain’t the most fucking Canadian way to fall in love, I don’t know what is. Anyway, Doogie Dowler’s store was a very important place.
Colin [00:05:03] In the mountain, there is a beautiful view of it from the Harriet Bay store that he was the owner operator of, and also from his home.
Seth [00:05:13] Viewing it from Quadra Island, which is an island between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia, Doogie Dowler looms large.
Colin [00:05:22] It’s a tall mountain. It’s an Alpine Mountain. Twin peaks. Beautiful and covered in snow right now.
Paul Dowler [00:05:28] Approximately six thousand seven hundred eighty eight feet.
Seth [00:05:32] Wow.
Paul Dowler [00:05:33] Yeah, it’s a big mountain.
Seth [00:05:35] Imagine a long giant mountain range and then in the middle of the range, two peaks just popping up above all the rest. That’s Doogie Dowler. Almost like a little hat.
Paul Dowler [00:05:50] It looks sort of like a cowboy hat.
Seth [00:05:52] For a long time, this mountain did not have an official name.
Paul Dowler [00:05:56] So it was referred to as Cowboy Hat Mountain.
Seth [00:06:00] That’s a worse name than Doogie Dowler, I would say.
Paul Dowler [00:06:03] Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty colloquial.
Seth [00:06:06] Cowboy hat mountain. That’s what Doogie Dowler would have referred to this mountain as.
Colin [00:06:11] He died in ’82 or ’83, and some friends of his and fellow community members asked his wife if they could name the mountain after him. They knew that it wasn’t named. They just did that in honor of him, and I truly believe his contribution to Quadra Island.
Paul Dowler [00:06:31] Colin was always really into nature from when he was a very young child. You know, like handling snakes, catching insects and and stuff like that. He was always super fascinated with animals and how they work. Good understanding of plants and trees and sort of the interconnection of wild things.
Seth [00:06:51] So imagine you’re a young man growing up. You’re incredibly outdoorsy. You have a lot of pride in where you’re from. And every day you are staring at this mountain that is named after your own grandfather. I understand why you would grow the urge to climb that mountain, and that’s what the Dowler boys were going to do. They were going to summit Mount Doogie Dowler.
Colin [00:07:15] Let’s go see if we can do the Doog, we were saying.
Seth [00:07:20] Do the Doog. But doing the Doog was easier and more fun said than done. Colin had actually attempted it before when he was in his mid-20s.
Colin [00:07:36] While we were trying to get to the summit it started raining, and I’m not an expert mountain climber and it got really scary. So with the rain, we said no, we’re going to turn around. The slippery rocks are not cool.
Seth [00:07:48] And that’s not all.
Colin [00:07:50] It was actually my elementary school best friend’s stepbrother.
Seth [00:07:53] Colin’s Elementary School best friend’s stepbrother.
Colin [00:07:57] Fell to his death trying to climb the mountain.
Seth [00:07:59] Oh no.
Colin [00:08:00] The coroner’s report said 800 foot fall, I believe.
Seth [00:08:03] Holy fuck.
Colin [00:08:04] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it’s not.
Seth [00:08:05] It’s no joke.
Colin [00:08:06] Yeah, it’s a serious piece of business.
Seth [00:08:15] Just getting to Mount Doogie-Dowler from Quadra Island would be something that I don’t even think I could personally do. There is no road, there’s no like official boat. You have to boat yourself through the narrow passages of water that surround Vancouver Island to the mainland we’re Doogie Dowler is. The only humans in this area literally are loggers, trappers and the occasional fisherman. If you’re lucky, maybe the loggers left you like a little improvised dock or something and you’ll have somewhere to tie up your boat. But maybe not. There’s a loggers camp, a trappers cabin, a couple of gravel roads for the loggers, and that is it. The loggers drive about nine kilometers, that’s like five miles, on a gravel road out into the bush. And once you’re in the bush, you’re just in the forest, on a mountain, basically. You’re forging your own trails, you’re tracking your location just by looking around. Doogie Dowler is often covered in snow and when it’s not, the water is just pouring off of it in all directions, making huge boulders tumble down the mountain. The bushes so thick you can’t even see your own feet sometimes. You’re constantly trying to get over streams of unpredictable depths and speed. Once you get into the Alpine, you’re climbing rocks, and these rocks can be slippery because there is glacial water melting off of them. It’s not the hardest climb in the world. It’s not Mount Everest. It’s not that thing that lunatic from Free Solo was doing, but it is very difficult and very dangerous. Also, there’s fucking grizzly bears. Had you had experiences with a bear before or uh?
Colin [00:09:53] For sure I have, right?
Seth [00:09:55] Yeah. A few years earlier, coming back from a hike in that area, some loggers warned Colin and his friend about some grizzly bears.
Colin [00:10:04] And the guys said, are you guys nuts? There’s a grizzly bear and it’s a sow and cubs, and they chased our truck the other day and blah blah blah, right?
Seth [00:10:12] A sow and cubs. That means a mother bear with her babies. And a sow grizzly bear can be particularly aggressive and unpredictable.
Colin [00:10:20] And me being me with this sort of belief that I’m fine in nature, I love nature and nature loves me, there is nothing to worry about. As long as you’re confident you’re fine. Rather than asking the logger for a ride back to my boat in a boat and dropped off at shore, I opted to walk back across the delta where we could see the sow and cubs. You know, several hundred meters away, but it’s still there. So my friend didn’t want to come with me. Understandably so. So I walked back across this delta and just with the way the tide had come up a bit it pushed me a little closer to the bears than I necessarily wanted. But I was already committed. Kept going along the shoreline and there was a (UNCLEAR) trees there and climbed up the other end of that and I looked over and about a stone’s throw away was the sow looking at me. And it was it was truly, really scary in the moment. I said, you know, like, hi bear or something like that. And I just I turned and walked away remembering what my uncle had told me, that you never run from a bear. You always stay vocal. Because if you sneak, you’re a predator, if you run you’re prey. I started rhyming to myself the best I can. Right? And just gibberish the whole way back to my boat. And I got my boat, pulled the anchor and pushed off, and the fear started to overwhelm me then. But I was fine. And then I thought, Man, I, I got this, like….
Seth [00:11:45] Yeah, that was fucking cool. I’m at one with bears.
Colin [00:11:49] Nothing to worry about. Yeah.
Seth [00:11:57] It’s worth saying here, just to give you a little bit of visual context, Colin- not the biggest dude on Earth. He’s under five foot eight. He’s around 125 pounds. But… Gotta look out for the little guy.
Paul Dowler [00:12:11] You know, I’m his older brother, and I don’t know if I can honestly say that I ever really bested him in a fight. And we had, oh god, I mean, so many. It’s well-known like there’s this ongoing battle, right? But he would just level up. He’s just kind of hard core. He doesn’t really express fear and those sorts of things in a way that maybe normal people do.
Seth [00:12:37] So the Dowler boys were going to do to Doog together. In order to do this properly they needed months of training and it was important to actually like scout a path to the top of the mountain because, like I said, there is no actual paths leading up this mountain. It would require reconnaissance. Which brings us to the weekend in question. It was a few days before Colin’s 45th birthday.
Colin [00:12:58] I was talking with my wife about, Hey, what are we going to do this weekend? And I wanted to go camp with her. She would prefer to go just chill on the beach and maybe camp with her parents at a local lake. I wanted a little bit more adventure so that, you know what? This is perfect timing. The weather’s good. I’m going to go do a reconnaissance trip up Doogie. I wasn’t going to try to summit, but just see if I can do it.
Seth [00:13:20] Paul and Colin were on separate work schedules, so Paul couldn’t make it. Colin was going to do this trip on his own.
Jen Dowler [00:13:31] He wanted to go up, but he couldn’t find anybody to go with him, so he was just going to go. I had plans to go to the lake. He does do these lone adventures often, but you know, there was something bugging me about him going off on this adventure on his own. There’s just so many things that could go wrong. He’s boating over. He’s climbing a mountain. We kind of talked about, Well, why don’t we do something together? Why don’t we go do this other hike instead? And he finally said to me, he said, you know, he said, Don’t change your plans because you don’t want me to do this by myself. I’ll be fine.
Paul Dowler [00:14:11] I think it was the night before he left and we’re out salmon fishing. He started telling me like, Well, I’m going to, I’m going to do this recon mission. And I was kind of like, Well, you know, by yourself? And he actually said, I never read any statistics saying that you’re more likely to get attacked by a grizzly bear by yourself than with other people. Right? So I was like, Well, I guess I haven’t really either.
Jen Dowler [00:14:43] He said, so I should be back by eight o’clock Sunday. If I’m not back by eight o’clock on Sunday then you can start worrying.
Seth [00:14:52] How long were you expecting to be gone for?
Colin [00:14:55] One night.
Seth [00:14:55] One night, OK.
Colin [00:14:56] Yeah.
Seth [00:14:57] One night on Mount Doogie Dowler. He packed his bag for an overnight trip, threw his bike in back and headed for the local boat launch.
Colin [00:15:12] And so I had my backpack packed, you know, the food that I’m going to bring. I had a little bivy sack, so instead of a tent, it’s like a plastic cocoon thing. It really wasn’t very comfortable. So minimal rations. I’m just going to punch and see what I can get done tonight. Wanted to get the pepper spray from my dad but the weekends get busy at the boat launches and you run out of room to launch and whatnot. And I never really had had a problem with a bear, so didn’t get the pepper spray.
Seth [00:15:38] Yeah. He left Quadra Island, steered past Bulloch Bluff, through the Plunger Pass, and then as he entered Ramsay Arm, his destination came into view.
Colin [00:15:48] Bombed over to where the dock was and got off the dock, got my bike going and I realized, Holy smokes, there’s a generator and stuff running. There’s actually people in the logging camp. And it’s about 9:00 in the morning and the camp cook, who’s also the first aid attendant, he was napping because they get up super early, right? Do the fixings for the crew and then rest, wait for them to come back. So yeah, we were chatting and he told me that I couldn’t leave my boat at the dock because he wasn’t sure what other boats were coming in. It was a really small dock. So that was fine. He asked me, Is there anything I could use? And I mentioned, you know, some pepper spray would be nice. He said, Yeah, no problem. And he got me a nice brand new in the wrapper thing of pepper spray.
Seth [00:16:32] Which is great.
Colin [00:16:32] Which I put in my pocket. Yeah, totally great. I went back to my boat and I actually I left all my clothes and things I was taking with me on the dock. I got naked back into my boat. Boated the, I don’t know, maybe 100 feet or so to the boomsticks.
Seth [00:16:50] And then swam back.
Colin [00:16:51] Tied the boat up, swam back. I toweled off the best I could because I hadn’t actually brought a towel with me, so I had some rags in the boat.
Seth [00:16:59] There he was, buck ass naked, drying off with some rags, looking up at Doogie Dowler. His grandfather would be proud.
Colin [00:17:16] Camp cook gave me a lift as far as he could make it in the truck up top, which is nice and a pretty common like camaraderie of those camps, right? They tend to treat you pretty well. So I ditched my bike where we turned around. When Vito, the cook dropped me off up top, so he took a picture of me. And he said, this is for the milk cartons in case you don’t return.
Seth [00:17:45] Oh no.
Colin [00:17:47] So that was funny. I hadn’t started off on my journey up the mountain. Started walking in and realized, OK, there’s a lot of bear sign here, and I was stepping over a fair amount of piles of poop, but stayed loud. Lots of just whatever word would come to my head and then rhyme as many words with it as I can, and you know, I was like honestly doing some pretty goofy things. Just trying to make noise for as long as they can. Nobody’s listening, right? There was watersheds I was marking, you know, little streams that come down. All right. So Punching along with my impulsive nature, I got to what I was sure was the spot that it was time for me to turn up and follow the valley and start gaining ground to get into the Alpine. I was not in the right place to start moving uphill yet, right? I had one more draw to pass. I thought I’d hit the the one that was time for me to turn and head uphill. Really I should have attempted to cross that. Totally changed the timeline of what would have been if I wasn’t so impulsive. So there I turned and headed uphill. On my way up, I would stop, you know, look at my phone and, you know, take pictures and use an app that would tell me elevation and whatnot. On one of those starts to take a break and do you know a little navigation stop, I was sitting with my like my butt on a low log and my knees up high. My pepper spray fell out of my pocket.
Seth [00:20:02] Oh, no.
Colin [00:20:02] Yeah.
Seth [00:20:04] And you didn’t know?
Colin [00:20:05] I didn’t notice until well later I thought, Oh man, this could have fallen out anywhere. And hiked away until I want to say around 5:00 at night. Yeah, so I was at about 300 feet of elevation, so just starting to get into the subalpine. I thought, You know what, I’m going to camp up here for the night or I don’t see any bear sign. So I camp the night.
Seth [00:20:53] The sun rose and Colin rose with it. He struck his camp and headed back down the mountain.
Colin [00:21:06] Like, I couldn’t always see my feet in front of me. The bush was that tight and there is evidence that bears were there because there were elderberry trees or bushes about maybe a 25 foot high tree max. Short lived. But they’ve got to berry that, you know, the birds and the bears like to eat. So a lot of those appeared to be pulled down. So I’m thinking the bears are, you know, doing that and eating the berries.
Seth [00:21:38] By around 11:00 a.m., he made it to the gravel loggers road.
Colin [00:21:44] So, yeah, I get back down to my bike. Things are great. I’d made it through the kind of the nerve wracking part. I’m clear of the bush. I can get on my mountain bike and head down the hill. So now I’m getting into open logging road, and I’m starting to think about, man, this is awesome. It’s my birthday tomorrow. I’m getting home early, I’m going to have a few drinks and see what I can talk my wife and kid into doing on my birthday the next day, right? Cruising down the road and I looked up at the mile marker, which was the seven kilometer mark, and there is a grizzly bear on the road, about 75 or 100 feet away. So I stopped immediately and yelled aloud to it. Hey, bear! I knew it was a grizzly right away, so I’m going to say it was bigger than the typical black bear. Definitely differently shaped.
Seth [00:22:59] Do they have like a hump, grizzly bears? Is that kind of what I’m thinking?
Colin [00:23:02] Yeah, he had a hump and kind of a big, wide, flat head. This one was wet from having just stepped out of the bush. So, you know, honestly, it didn’t look particularly huge to me. What it was was it was nine feet long from nose to toe.
Seth [00:23:16] Holy shit.
Colin [00:23:18] Yeah. So so it was a big framed bear. It was four or five years old and it weighed 350 pounds.
Seth [00:23:26] A long, wet, gangly grizzly bear. So you’re 100 feet away from the bear on your bike and you stop and you’re, you’re yelling at it.
Colin [00:23:43] I was straddling my bike, and it looked at me and then it looked into the bush, looked back at me and looked back at the bush and I’m thinking, Man, would you just step into the bush? And then it started slowly walking towards me. And then I thought, Oh, crap, OK, like this, this is not good. And so I thought, what am I going to do? I should probably ready some kind of defense here. So I slung my pack off and I had the hiking poles and I started extending my hiking pole… to as long as I could get it, and then I started to bang the pole on my bike a few times as well. Hoping that that might, you know, get it to move into the bush. So then I’m standing there with the pole, you know tapping away on my bike and it continued to walk slowly towards me and looked into the bush a couple more times on the approach. They do this funny head swing sometimes while they’re making a decision. With maybe 30 feet away, and I thought, Man, OK, like this is way too close. I’m not comfortable straddling my bike right now, so I stepped off my bike. And it made the bear nervous, right, like that amount of action from me, and it did like this four paw shuffle. I could hear his toes, like his toenails, his claws, hitting the ground as he walked too. There was this (MAKES NOISE) as they hit. Paused for a moment and then just started slowly approaching again. And he just continued forward and got til he was, I don’t know, like right there, you know, a few feet from my bike and we made eye contact for a moment and I am not man enough to hold eye contact with a grizzly bear. I know that. It just it felt all sorts of wrong, so I dipped my head and looked away. And as he cruised past the bike and we’re talking two or three feet away like I could have reached and touched him… And he dipped his had a couple of times, you know, like a shy dog might it it’s not sure he’s going to let you pet it or not. It didn’t seem aggressive to me like I, you know, really didn’t know what to make of it. I remember thinking, Man, I wish I was filming this because nobody is going to believe that I was this close to this bear and he’s going to walk right by.
Seth [00:27:04] Oh wow.
Colin [00:27:06] Its rump was about eight inches from clearing my back wheel. And he made a 180 degree turn. Now the bear has chosen to engage, right? And he started to move towards me, so I took the pole and I reached it out and placed it between his eyes on the flat part of his head. And I held it with force to hold him steady, and honestly, it felt like it was going pretty well. And he rolls his head to get the pole off him and then chomps down on the pole.
Seth [00:27:57] Whoa.
Colin [00:27:57] So now we’re having a little tug of war. And it lasted maybe a second or two and he let go of the hiking pole and started to advanced towards me again. And now he’s clawing at my bike, and I don’t want to be stuck under my bike with this bike on me so I threw my bike at him. He got momentarily tangled in it, like I’m sure one of his legs went through the frame. And then he stepped forward and and lunged at me, and it all seemed like super slow mo… And he grabbed me by the by the flank, and next thing you know, I’m just I’m hanging there, suspended in this bear’s jaws.
Seth [00:29:01] Holy shit. The flank is your leg.
Colin [00:29:08] The flank is my side.
Seth [00:29:10] Your side. OK.
Colin [00:29:12] Yeah. Between my hips and my ribs.
Seth [00:29:14] Ugh. He lifted you completely off the ground?
Colin [00:29:21] I might’ve had a heal dragging because I’m a really light guy too. Like I’m, you know, anywhere from 125 to 130 pounds. I remember thinking that, oh, man, if he carries me into the bush, I’m dead for sure. And he was angling towards the bush, 30 or 40 feet. And so it was maybe 20 or 30 seconds back in the other direction of be hanging there. So he angles me towards the ditch, and I’m not sure if I like if he needed a break or if I was sliding from his grip. And so he put me down near the ditch and with my head, you know, almost in the ditch, my legs point towards the middle of the road. And he cinched up his grip. Right, so he opened his mouth and bit in and gave another little shake to sink his teeth in deep. And I thought, OK, like it’s go time now. I have to do something. So I went to go for a double eye gouge move, and in my mind, I’m going to grab him and I’m not going to let go and I’m going to like pop his eyes in, like in the movies. I couldn’t reach his right eye, which was the further one from me. So I thought, Well, I guess I’ll go for a single eye gouge here. So I got my my fingers around his ear and then poked into his eye as hard as I could. The next split second is a blur. I’d been spun a hundred and eighty degrees.
Seth [00:31:16] Wow.
Colin [00:31:16] I am on my back like bicycle kickin, with this bear that’s in spazzy thrash mode on me, and he’s using his paws to corral my legs and bite into my thighs. And I’m just trying to kick and thrash as wildly as I can. I ended up not being able to keep up with what he was throwing at me. He’s biting into one thigh and then the other. And he would bite in and shake, but not like a huge, violent shake, just like a sink your teeth in deeper shake… And then let go and bite in again and shake. And he did that maybe two or three times.
Seth [00:32:09] Could you feel pain at this point?
Colin [00:32:11] Oh, for sure. Yeah, yeah. So I thought, Man, I got to do something here. I thought to myself, Seth, like this is so feeble, but I have to do something. I’m just going to try to peel his mouth off my leg. And so I reach down and you can kind of hear him like, like huffing, like, like breathing and like that (MAKES NOISE).
Seth [00:32:36] Yeah.
Colin [00:32:44] And so I reached and got my my my thumbs up under his lip and started like peeling with everything I had. And there is the drool and his yellow teeth. I felt like it was doing nothing but it bugged him enough, he let go and he bit my hand.
Seth [00:33:04] Oof.
Colin [00:33:05] Yeah, it wasn’t the worst bite in the world.
Seth [00:33:07] Okay.
Colin [00:33:08] You know, just kind of got the ball of the thumb there. So yeah, I guess I got lucky. And then he went back to chewing on me further down my leg where I couldn’t reach or do anything. I could hear his teeth grating against bone. It sounded like when a lab is chewing on a cow bone. This (MAKES NOISE) The things I do remember yelling was stop and why. I definitely didn’t yell help because I knew no help was coming, right? I remember feeling like serious remorse for being so foolish and abandoning my family. I remember wondering is like, is this it? Do I die here? Do I get eaten alive? Do I get dragged in the bush and die and rot? And then I remembered I got this pocket knife. That my my dad had picked up a Canadian Tire for 80 percent off. I shit you not, Seth, it’s probably the first gift he’d ever given me out of the blue that wasn’t a hand-me-down or for a birthday or Christmas. Like, I gotta get my knife. And my knife’s in my right hand pocket. I had to push my stomach down with with both hands and slowly wiggle for I don’t know how many seconds to get across to my other side while this thing is literally eating me. So I’m crawling with my fingers for the knife and I get it out. Takes both hands to open it. So then I went to give like this huge, great big swing with this knife. And I swung with all my might. And stabbed into his neck. And pulled the knife out. I think I kind of identify with professional hockey players when they’re streaking through the crease. They talk about all these options that they saw and thought and were going to do, and they slow down time and space. As I pulled out, he lifted his head up off me. So he’s still got me pinned. I don’t want to stab him in the shoulder, because right now he’s he’s not eating me anymore and this is good, right? I was happy with the stalemate that we were in. I’m just going to wait and see what happens. And then this huge gush of blood came out of the bear’s neck and splashed on to my waist. And so then I said, and this is my my bad ass moment, I said, Now you’re bleeding too, bear.
Seth [00:37:05] Oh shit! You said that out loud? Oh!
Singers [00:37:14] Story time. Story time. Yeah.
Colin [00:37:35] I said it aloud, now you’re bleeding too, bear.
Seth [00:37:38] That’s amazing. I would forever be proud of myself for saying that in that moment. I’m glad, I’m glad you said that.
Colin [00:37:53] I appreciate your endorsement. And for what it’s worth, yeah, I am quite proud of that. And he further pulls up off me and starts to walk away. So he walks up around me and then veers towards the bush. So now he’s standing at the trail, he’s looking at me and looking back at the bush, looking at me looking back at the bush and I’m thinking to myself, Just die. Fall over. And then I looked over and the bear was gone.
Seth [00:38:50] Wow.
Colin [00:38:51] Yeah. So I don’t want to say I’m stoked at this point, but now I’ve got options. I need to start getting a tourniquet tied, so I started cutting my sleeve off and I started tying the tourniquet around my leg. And what I thought was my pants all bunched up around my leg, I realized that it wasn’t bunched up pants, but it was meat bulging out of the holes that he’d created. So I have total chicken legs, right? My wife calls them Wednesday legs. When’s they gonna break? Thank God they’re that skinny because I was able with just a granny knot to get the tourniquet tied on. I thought about waiting for a crummy, like a crew truck of loggers, to come back down the mountainside. And I looked at my watch it was 12:01 and I thought, Man, they’re not going to be rolling back down till, you know, three o’clock at the earliest. I didn’t think I had till three o’clock. I need to try to get on my bike and get help. I tried crawling back to my bike and I couldn’t take the pain on my knees for the gravel in the road, so I don’t have any open wounds on my knees and I’m cursing myself saying seriously, Dowler? You can’t take this? So I flipped over onto my butt. I pushed with my one good leg and skidded on my butt back to my bike. I tried using my hiking pole to get onto the bike, and I fell over on that and bent it and collapsed. I used my bike to pull myself up, pulled my badly damaged leg up over the bike, got the pedal ready and stepped on it to launch and go and immediately face planted and fell over the other side of my bike. And like a truly disheartening moment. It was a really tough one to bear. I’m talking to myself in my head. You know, you’ve got to get this, Dowler. Got to get this, Dowler. Got to get this, Dowler. And I just remember taking a moment to get my resolve. Using my horribly dysfunctional leg to stand, got my better leg over and stepped on it and pedaled and took off. I was on my way. I was at the seven kilometer mark. I had to get to approximately the three kilometer mark until I could coast downhill.
Seth [00:42:10] Oh wow.
Colin [00:42:11] So right, so I got a four kilometer pedal ahead of me. I’m doing a one legged pedal. I didn’t have toe clips. So my my really badly damaged leg was just weight to help the pedal fall so that I could push the next pedal stroke forward. So I’m doing this goofy, one legged pedal. Any time I got a chance to take a break and coast, like kinda get on the crown of the road and then coast towards a ditch, I was coasting as much as I could. It was a real challenge. I was watching the wheel go around the bear’s blood on it, you know, it was red. I could feel my seat heating up and I knew that was from that flank wound. I didn’t at this time know that my kidney was visible through that wound. So, you know, I’ve got this, you know, a 4K or two and a half miles to make it. And I was at a point where it’s like, OK, like just over this rise, like, that’s where I got to get and then I’m coasting the rest of the way because I’ve been going for so long, it felt like forever. Or if I came around a bend, you know, same thing, around this bend, I’m home free. And then I saw the five kilometer marker, and I realized that had only made it halfway through the pedaling part. And that, sincerely, was my lowest moment of this survival journey.
Seth [00:43:43] Wow.
Colin [00:43:44] Right, cuz I just like seriously like I just I don’t think I’ve got enough to make it.
Seth [00:43:51] But what made you keep going? You just kept going.
Colin [00:43:54] Yeah, I just, you know, will to live. But then at one point, my my left foot fell off the pedal, and it was while I was actively pedaling, and I’m absolutely certain I wouldn’t have been able to get back on the bike if I fell off, right, like I did not have that kind of stamina. And so this is a serious situation. So I angled my bike towards the ditch so I could keep coasting. Reach down with my left hand to grab my left pant leg and pull my leg up onto the pedal while I’m taking my right foot to pull that pedal up to get the left pedal down where I can get my foot back on and get pedaling again. And that that was truly nip and tuck. So I got that sorted, and here I’m telling myself, Dowler, concentrate on keeping your freaking foot on the pedal. Like I had to simplify at that point on just thinking the most basic things: breathe, pedal, and a simple rescue plan.
Seth [00:44:58] The plan? Ride this bike all the way back to the loggers camp where he’d met the cook the previous morning.
Colin [00:45:04] Get to the door, try to get in the building and yell Help as loud as I can as many times as I have to until I wake the cook up to come get me. I started coasting down the hill, so it was five weeks earlier, I coasted down the hill and when I was healthy and with a helmet on, I had to use both sets of brakes and brake on my way down to be under control. It was a really steep gravel logging road hill. Face planted onto the deck with my my legs on the stairs and my upper body on the deck.
Seth [00:45:44] Five loggers who were at the camp rushed to Colin’s aid.
Colin [00:45:48] I laid there while they, you know, started yelling for, you know, first aid kits. This and that.
Seth [00:45:53] There was blood everywhere.
Colin [00:45:55] Man, you know, on my right leg I sincerely only remember him biting it once. But I mean, there’s got to be 15 puncture wounds and, you know, and some of them are inches long. So I don’t know if that was like a chomp chomp chomp as he’s shaking away. Each time they would get the hole that was bleeding the worst, another one would start leaking, so they were chasing the holes like whack a mole. They burned through all three first aid kits that they had in camp, burned through all their tourniquets and started using random things they could use to to cinch down gauze. When they discovered my flank wound, I could feel the panic in the air. They thought that I was going to die. So they had me making phone calls. So I started with my wife. I knew she was camping but I thought I’d try anyways. I didn’t want to leave that on an answering machine. Um so I just hung up.
Paul Dowler [00:47:08] And the guy on the other end of the phone said is this Paul Dowler? I said, Yes, it is. And he said, Well, your brother Colin has been attacked by a grizzly bear.
Colin [00:47:18] Honestly, I didn’t even want to be making phone calls, but I wasn’t sure what to do in the moment. And the guys are freaking, right? It was certainly awkward.
Seth [00:47:33] These guys made me call you. I was eaten by a bear. I don’t know what to say.
Colin [00:47:37] Yeah. And honestly, like what do you say?
Paul Dowler [00:47:42] He started mumbling like so fucking kill a fucking bear. And I was like, a bear has killed you? And he goes, No, no. I said-
Colin [00:47:55] That if I don’t survive this, I’m pretty sure I killed a grizzly bear. And I just wanted him to, you know, think like that, I don’t know what, that I died bad ass or something. I do remember when I laying there and I don’t remember at what point, hearing their soundtrack going.
Seth [00:48:20] They were playing music.
Colin [00:48:21] Yeah, because it was already on. They didn’t go stop the music. We have an accident, right?
Seth [00:48:25] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Colin [00:48:26] And it was a Beastie Boys tune going. And I’m like, Hey, guys, that the Beastie Boys? I don’t necessarily know the names of their songs, but (SINGS) you can’t, you won’t, and you don’t stop. You can’t, you won’t, and you don’t stop. And so I’m thinking wow, that’s actually quite fitting. The only other thing I remember is Fuck the Police.
Seth [00:48:52] That came on after? That’s the kind of thing you never think of, but is the kind of stuff that you must be absorbing in those moments.
Colin [00:49:08] I heard the helicopter.
Paramedic [00:49:21] My name’s Kelani (SP?) Polson. I’m a critical care flight tarmac for the BC Ambulance Service.
Seth [00:49:26] So what did he look like literally?
Paul Dowler [00:49:28] Everywhere on his body that you can imagine he was torn up. He had wounds and just when you thought you finished finding more, you’d turn him over and there was more. His legs had holes in them, big holes that looked like there was hamburger hanging out of his leg. On his back it looked like if you took four scalpel and put them to the hilt and dragged them across his back. And then the most shocking injury, there was a large bandage over his flank. So I lifted that up. It was a window into his body. His kidney was right there, so I’ve never, ever seen that. There’s a hole like looking right into the body there, and there’s a perfectly intact kidney. The first thing on our mind was to get him a blood transfusion, which we had just started carrying blood, which has kind of been my pet project for about a decade.
Colin [00:50:19] They had only recently given authorization for paramedics to give blood on the scene.
Paramedic [00:50:26] Which is a challenge because he was so shut down that it was difficult to get IVs into him and that sort of thing.
Colin [00:50:31] I got one of the loggers to hold the IV bag.
Paramedic [00:50:35] When you look at his- all of his numbers and his condition at the scene compared to at the hospital, I don’t think that he would be alive without the blood.
Colin [00:50:44] When we’re on the way out, them asking ever been in a helicopter before? I’m like, no, first time.
Seth [00:50:59] Meanwhile, back home…
Jen Dowler [00:51:05] So when I was coming home from camping on Sunday and I was like, Oh, it’s almost eight, it’s almost time to start worrying. And I, you know, came around the corner and his truck’s not there. And instead, I have Paul’s vehicle in my driveway. My mother in law, my my daughter come out of the house and Paul comes out of the backyard and they’re all kind of coming at me and I’m- and Paul says, Don’t panic. He’s alive. But Colin was attacked by a grizzly bear. And at first I, you know, those first moments I’m like, Where is he? You know, there’s got to be a joke. But yeah, and then I was just like, what? Like, it was just so bizarre of all the scenarios that I thought that could happen, I never considered a bear attack. I thought fall off a cliff. Sink his boat, you know. He was already at the hospital and he was just waiting to go into surgery and that was all I really knew. And that was the other question I was going over in my head is like, what are the injuries, right? Because you there are some horror stories out there about bear attacks and people missing limbs and stuff. And I just thought, what does he look like? Like, how is he? You know, like, I know he’s alive, but…
Colin [00:52:49] Six and a half hours of surgery.
Seth [00:52:50] Oh my God.
Colin [00:52:53] Yeah. Dr. Cole, the trauma surgeon, said the injury on my left flank was only one cell layer from the kidney and from all the internal organs. I don’t know how thick our cells are, but it’s akin to cellophane over my kidney, right? When they opened up my left leg, they immediately realized that my femoral artery was not repairable.
Seth [00:53:21] Oh wow.
Colin [00:53:22] Right. So they had to do a bypass on my femoral artery. So they opened up my leg down the leg until they could find a good piece of vein and then harvested that. And then they turn it around, right? Flip it upside down so the valves are going in the right direction and then sewed that in place of my femoral artery.
Seth [00:53:47] Holy shit.
Colin [00:53:48] Yeah. So I mean, I don’t know any of this is happening, right?
Seth [00:53:51] They put Colin under before he went to surgery.
Colin [00:53:54] I’ve got the surgical report, so that’s how I know some of this stuff. And then they had a further look on my flank around that kidney wound to make sure that the abdominal cavity hadn’t been punctured because that’s a whole new world of infection problems, right? My birthday now, I went into surgery at 11:30 at night the day before my birthday, so I wake up on my birthday. And then that was kind of that was like, OK, here I am alive and well, and next thing I knew I was surrounded by my family and.
Seth [00:54:40] Amazing.
Colin [00:54:41] Yeah, talk about being able to like, feel the love in the air, like, you know, I had never felt that before. Like, you don’t I don’t know, I don’t, I don’t know how to describe it, you know, and it’s something that I try to pass on to people now. I- just how loved we actually really are.
Seth [00:55:08] Mm hmm.
Colin [00:55:10] And but I don’t know that I ever understood it until I was in there, and you could just feel the love in the air like it was thick. Right? I’m at a loss for the words, Seth, to to describe it, but like that love was physically present. The physiatrist told me that I’d be wearing a leg brace for the rest of my life and never jog a trail again.
Seth [00:55:43] Wow.
Colin [00:55:44] Yeah, right? So that was August 2019. September of 2020 I jogged a half marathon.
Seth [00:55:54] Wow. You might be thinking it’s amazing that he’s recovered at the pace he has and thank God that his body has bounced back so much. But how is he emotionally? Is he traumatized? Is he scared? Is he avoiding mountains and bears and hiking and the stuff he used to love? I wouldn’t come within a million fucking miles of Mount Doogie Dowler after that shit happened to me. Colin? He’s already tried to climb it again. He had to turn back, but he tried. And something tells me he’s going to try again.
Paul Dowler [00:56:53] People have made the mistake many times of underestimating Colin.
Jen Dowler [00:57:02] He’s got to do it now. I mean, that’s the kind of the ending of the story, isn’t it?
Colin [00:57:09] Honestly, do I really have to worry about ever bumping into a violent bear again? The odds are so slim.
Seth [00:57:32] Storytime with Seth Rogen is in Earwolf production… Produced, edited, and amazingly sound designed by Richard Parks III. Our executive producer is the incredible Frida Perez. Additional production by Josh Richmond, Renee Colvert, Jared O’Connell, Marcus Homme and Marina Paiz, with special thanks to Amelia Chappelow. Our artwork is by Robin Richesson, who also storyboards our films. Our theme music is by Andi Kristinstoddtir. The music in this episode was composed and performed by William Ryan Fritsch. This was the final episode of season one of Storytime. We’ll be back in 2022 with more stories. I’d also like to announce that Storytime has merch! Merchandising. To get our merch go to teepublic.com/stores/storytime. That’s teepublic.com/stores/storytime. I’m Seth Rogen… oh no. Oh no. Has it been working?
November 9, 2021
Ashley Ray tells the story of a TV show that changed her mom’s life. Featuring Ashley’s mom, Sharon, and Academy-Award-winning filmmaker, Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th, Queen Sugar).
Check out Ashley’s Podcast “TV I Say” on her website here: https://theashleyray.com/tvisaypod
And make sure to follow @theeashleyray on Twitter and @theashleyray on Instagram.