Bear Country Camping

by Elise Weaver | May 1, 2023 | 0 comments

mountain lake
Photo © Elise Weaver.

One Sunday afternoon after church, Dad took my sisters and me on an overnight camping trip. We packed our backpacks with sleeping bags, food, and a first aid kit. My older sister didn’t pack a sleeping bag, thinking that it wouldn’t be too cold. We got to the trailhead at 5:00 p.m. Our plan was to hike to a beautiful lake surrounded by majestic mountains, stay the night, and then hike back the following day.

It was fun! And gorgeous! The trail was on a steep mountain with a couple of short rocky cliffs on the side. The trail was above a ravine, and you could see Devil’s Creek below you. It was pretty! There were lots and lots of blueberries and crowberries. The blueberries were kind of sour, but the crowberries were sweet and delicious. We saw a bear afar off and watched it for a while.

At one rocky place there was a waterfall spraying over a short drop-off. It was beautiful, but the water was cold. It looked like a shower. There were many other streams and waterfalls rushing across the trail. But I thought the “shower” waterfall was the best.

When we were a mile from our destination, Dad whispered, “Get down!”

All of us girls shot to the ground. My oldest sister whispered, “Shhh, be quiet.”

A big bear was right on the other side of the ravine! It was running very, very fast. Never in my life have I seen a bear run so fast. I thought they were clumsy and slow—I surely was wrong.

We reached the campsite by the lake just as the sun slipped behind the mountains. It was FREEZING cold. We set up our two tents and ate our supper of mountain houses that we made over a gas camp stove. Then we tried to get some sleep. All of us girls slept in one tent and Dad in the other. Dad put his poncho on top of our air vent, so that the rain that had just started to mist our campsite couldn’t come through.

I got pretty much sleep since I was the youngest; I got to sleep in the middle of the girls. In the middle of the night, we woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. We just panted and panted because the oxygen level was too low in our little tent. Dad told us to open the tent flap a little to let air in. My older sister unzipped it a little, which was better but colder.

Early in the morning when it was still dark, my sisters and Dad woke up to beautiful aurorae. Sadly, I slept through it all.

After I woke up and ate breakfast, we walked to the lake to try to catch some fish. Dad caught a small Dolly Varden trout while my oldest sister took a nap in the warm sun that peeked up from behind the mountains. The fish was too small to keep, so we threw it back in. I tried to catch a fish but failed. We finally packed our tents and started the long nearly 10-mile hike back.

On the way back, we girls saw a large grizzly bear. We also heard and saw lots of ptarmigans. Ptarmigans are birds in the grouse family. One time we heard a shrill whistle and looked up to see a marmot rapidly disappearing.

We came from treeless tundra to a dense forest covered in moss and cute little mushrooms. It looked like a fairy tale.
We reached the car at 2:00 in the afternoon. On the way back to our house, we bought ice cream at an ice cream shop.

We ended the hike in happy spirits and with sore muscles.

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