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Old 08-04-2017, 04:44 PM
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I hope the story isn't too disappointing, after the anticipation...Ok. Here goes... Back in April of 1985, when my husband and I were living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, we and a bunch of our friends decided to go snow camping. I suppose it's true that with age comes wisdom, because at my age the idea of camping in the snow seems ludicrous. My husband, Rex, is a geologist, and many of our friends are also geologists. They are a hearty bunch, who enjoy roughing it in the wilderness, after having done years of field work in college. Me, not so much! I was convinced by them that this was a great idea because 1. There are no mosquitos in the winter, 2. Wildlife is in hibernation, and 3. No one but us would be crazy enough to be out there in the sub-arctic temperatures.

We drove several hours north of Calgary into one of the most remote areas you can envision. During the drive, our friends told stories about their experiences with bears. Imagine what 4 hours of these stories would do to your already apprehensive feelings about snow camping in the middle of nowhere.

Here are a few of the stories that were shared during the drive...

1. A colleague of one of our friends was required to do research in Northern, Canada, near Churchill, Manitoba which is well known for its polar bear population. This guy was particularly afraid of polar bears (which in my opinion is not an unreasonable fear), so he looked at statistics of polar bear sightings on some of the uninhabited islands in the Arctic Ocean, until he found one that had never had a documented polar bear sighting. He then asked if he could do his research on this island, instead of his original assignment. When it was approved, he and a team of geologists gathered their supplies and headed out. In the middle of the very first night of camping on this uninhabited island, you guessed it, a polar bear comes into their camp, sneaks into one of the geologists' tents and drags the guy away by his head. They found his body the next morning. Obviously, there had been no recorded polar bear sightings, because the island was UNINHABITED.

2. Another friend of ours was doing field work near Banff, Alberta, Canada with a fellow student. They had backpacks that were packed with all sorts of tasty treats that they planned to snack on throughout the day. Apparently, a nearby grizzly caught a whiff of something in the backpacks that was very appealing, because the grizzly started following them. After several minutes of trying to get away from the bear, our friend decided to toss the bear a peace offering from the backpack, hoping that the bear would be appeased and leave them alone. The bear quickly devoured the sandwich that was offered, and then continued to follow them. Our friend and his companion continued walking at a fast pace to try to get away from the Grizzly, but the Grizzly kept coming. They tossed more treats, which the bear quickly ate, and then continued tracking them. Finally, our friend and his companion tossed their backpacks, and found a bluff to climb up on. After the bear rummaged through the backpacks he paced back and forth beneath the bluff for about an hour, before he finally gave up and left.

3. A geologist, who worked with my husband, was camping alone in the Sierra Nevada mountains. In the middle of the night a brown bear came upon her tent and started tossing it about, with her inside of it. She let out an enormous scream and started punching the tent from the inside, eventually scaring the bear away.

So… to return to my tale… we were still about an hour from our camping location, and all of the stories increased my fears about a possible bear encounter. It was pretty obvious to my friends that I was nervous, so they tried to ease my fears by saying, “But the bears are hibernating now.” I was starting to relax, when what did we see in the middle of nothingness? A couple of men carrying Ruger Hawkeye rifles, apparently these are the perfect rifles for bear hunting. We pulled our SUV up to where they were standing to ask them what they were doing out here in the middle of nowhere. They told us that they were Grizzly Bear hunters, and that this location was a prime spot for Grizzly Bear hunting. Once again my fears grew.
We finally reached our destination, and pitched our tents beneath some fir trees. My husband told me that if a bear came into the area, we could climb a tree to escape. (But first you have to be a pretty good tree climber, I thought, which is not one of my skills.) I hardly slept that night. Sometime around midnight, it started snowing. The snow gathered thickly on the tree limbs, occasionally falling to the ground in clumps. Every time a clump fell on our sanctuary, I was certain that it was a Grizzly’s claw raking our tent. I could tell that some of the other campers were spooked too, even though they didn’t let on, because I could hear them talking in their tents throughout the night.
The next morning we packed up our tents and gear, and as we were driving away, off in the distance we saw a grizzly bear.

Last edited by Sleepy's Sister; 08-04-2017 at 05:15 PM.
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