Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How to stop being afraid of bears


Hello?  Do you even READ this blog? If I knew the answer I wouldn't have been lying in a tent last night wondering about the sound of rockfall and if it meant a bear was sneaking up on me.***

**People! People! You are taking this statement all wrong! People are emailing me saying they do read the blog. That's lovely, thanks, but what I meant was, if you've read this blog for very long you wouldn't be looking in it for answers of how to stop being afraid of bears. I have an irrational fear of them, just like some people fear fish! (True story). Got it? Okay, good. Keep reading!

But let's backtrack. Last weekend, it snowed. For the work week, magically it decided to be seventy degrees. So unfair. I decided to hike a few miles after work and camp in one of my favorite places, Deadman Meadow. It's on the Hurricane Creek trail, just minutes from my house, and it's my favorite running trail. Of course, it's steep and rocky just like all the other trails, with a high possibility of face planting. You have to cross a creek on a skinny tree clinging for dear life to another tree. But there are places where the trail magically flattens, you get a view of big mountains, and you might be able to increase the pace to a blazing ten minute mile. But I've never camped in the meadow. It's only a two mile walk and it felt sort of like..cheating.

When I got to the meadow it was in shadow, but there was still light lingering on the high peaks. I decided to explore a little bit up by the falls. I knew that a few intrepid souls had climbed up from there to Deadman Lake, but I also knew it was a climb of epic proportions, not to be undertaken at 6::30 in the evening.

You  know those places you pass through all the time and you think you know everything about? This was such a place. As I poked around in the avalanche debris I found a trail, sketching its way up the sandy hillside, marked curiously by pieces of a white towel. A mystery! I was intrigued and couldn't resist climbing to a great height, from which I looked across at a steep rock face with water pouring over it. Probably lucky for me, my route was stopped by snow, because it would  have been extremely hard to turn around otherwise.

The full moon lit up the river and the sand. It was a beautiful, peaceful night, although I wished I could stop thinking about bears. I've probably spent a thousand nights camping, maybe more. Entire years of my life. In all that time, I've been charged by one bear. (I did work for someone who was mauled by a grizzly as a child. Something that gives you pause.) I'll probably always think about bears, although not enough to make me stop going.

Two things: there is always more to know about people and places than you could possibly imagine. And there will always be bears or lighting or possible
heartbreak; how you choose to deal with them is up to you.


  1. Good stuff Mary. I often think about bears before closing my eyes at night when we are in the back country. If we were in grizzly country I would probably think about it a lot more! How's the snow starting to come off and where's the pictures? For some reason they did not load or something.. ;-(

    1. Snow is rapidly leaving. Pics show up for me...anyone else?

    2. Yes, photos. Didn't realize meadow was only two miles up the trail--hmmm... August!

  2. I wish these mountains were in my backyard.We should meet halfway and do some backpacking together. (Warning: I'm a super slow backpacker.) What's halfway?

    1. That's a great idea! I'll look at some maps. Maybe we could talk Ewa into it too.

  3. Stunning photos. Carol


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