Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What bears do in the woods

I think that just about everybody has seen a bear in their life time, whether it was on television, at the zoo, or maybe in the wild. And for those who have seen them in the wild, my hat is off to you.

Bears are really cool to watch. . . from a distance. Sometimes it is up close and personal.

And when it gets personal, who knows how it is going to go or how it will end.

We all have heard or read about bear contacts with people. And so, now it is my turn. No bears were hurt in this story...

The summer of 1977 found me up in the mountains here in Colorado. I had decided to forego my present job and take a little vacation. So I packed up my camping gear and fishing pole. I loaded up my Chevelle, said goodbye to Grandmother and Pappy [I was living with them at the time] and headed up the highway towards Kremmling.

After driving to Kremmling, I stopped and talked to my Uncle Fay, who was now running a store. I asked Uncle Fay how things were going, and he said that things were kind of tight right now and that he needed to get away for a day or two. So I invited him to come camping and fishing with me. He said that was a good idea, but that he would have to meet me up at my camp. So I told him I was going up on the Gore, by the cabin that was called the Mac. He said, "Great, I'll see you up there."

So I get up to where I want. Pitch camp in the perfect spot, lots of aspen trees, and make myself at home. Now it is time to do some fishing. So down the trail I go. It is maybe a quarter of a mile or less to the beaver ponds that I like to fish. [I still bring friends up to fish and camp.]

The fishing is great, I've caught three or four brook trout, enough for a meal, when I hear what sounds like several people screaming and fighting. So I start to follow the sound. The farther I walk back up the trail the louder the screaming gets, and it is starting to really get to me. Of course, now my imagination is starting to take over. [We can talk about my imagination some other time.]

So now I'm starting to think that some one is fighting for their life, or that someone is being attacked by wild animals.

I'm running up the trail, wishing that I had my pistol with me, which I left back in my tent. As I get closer, I find that all of this racket is coming from my camp. So now I'm running like my butt's on fire.

As I come busting into my camp, my tent is no longer where I had put it up, but is now moving through the trees and hitting some of the trees as it goes. All of my stuff still in the tent, including my car keys. The tent is making good time, and when it hits a tree there is a growling sound.

Now, it takes quite a bit to get me rattled and a lot to scare me. But this is the damnedest thing I have ever seen.

So now I'm looking for a big stick; I mean to whack the hell out of whatever it is. Out of the corner of my eye, I see something BIG and hairy, and it is headed right for me! I turn my head, and coming right at me about 15 yards from me is this black bear. [I know that the bears here do not seem that big, but when they are headed your way, they look to be the size of a bus.]

Now, I don't know what this bear wants, but it really looks pissed off, and I seem to be in its way. Do I fall down and play dead, or should I try to spook it, crap my pants, or what?! I decide that maybe I should just get the hell out of the way.

The bear is now maybe 15 feet or so from me. So I do the fastest thing I can: I crawl under my car. That's right -- under a 1970 Chevelle.

Do any of you know how low a 1970 Chevelle is to the ground? LOW! Really low. Those of you who know me right now know how I have put on a few pounds. Well I just seemed to be custom fitted to the bottom of that car. No way I could do it now, unless you jack up the car first.

As I got under the car, who should show up but my uncle! So here I am under the car waving at Uncle Fay. He is laughing and pointing, and my tent is still moving through the trees and getting further away. We both watch as this bear goes to my tent and jumps on it. The tent is now screaming in protest, and making little jerky movements.

Fay hollers for me to stay put. As we watch, this bear takes and rips my tent completely in half, like paper, and out comes two little bear cubs. Now I know what all the racket was about. I had left my tent open and had put a sandwich in the tent[dumb, dumb, dumb, I know].

Now we watch as the three of them decide that it is the tent's fault, plus the sleeping bag, and all my clothes.

Everything is ripped, torn, chewed, and I think some of it might have been eaten.
And those fish that I caught? Well, I droped them in camp. And those damn bears ate them also.

There I was in what's left of my camp, still under the car, my uncle laughing, and everything destroyed.

After getting out from the car and getting Fay to stop laughing, we went ahead and did some more fishing. The fishing was still good and we caught our fair share.

Later, after cleaning up the bear mess, we built a fire and cooked our fish. Uncle Fay offered to put me up for the night in town, but I turned him down. Fay left a little after sundown. I built up the fire, grabed a blanket that I had in the trunk of the car, wrapped up, and looked at the stars for awhile, had some more coffee, and listened to the wind.

The next morning, I headed back for home. As I drove, I wondered what the bears thought about this. I'm sure they laughed about me trying to get out of the way.
I know that Grandmother and Pappy did!

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