Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Camp Tales: Part II, "Dude, what was that?"

Pull up a chair. It's time for more camp tales. This one I'll call, "Dude, what was that?"

Bears around the campsite:

You always HEAR about this. But most of the time, it's never anyone you know. Nevertheless, you scratch your chin and try to figure out what you'd do in that situation. Some would say, "Why, I'd get out my trusty bear spray that I always have clipped to my belt." (really?) OR, "Run to the car, roll up the windows and pray (assuming you're awake when this happens)."

Last summer we had a bear incident at this very site. My tent is the tent right next to the woods. Ivy's tent was the one closer (safer) to the camp area. Cheyenne State Campground is so close to Colorado Springs, that when one of park hosts said he'd seen a bear a few nights before, we just smiled, and nodded politely. I mean it's 10 min. from the interstate, not exactly the foot of Denali.

So our first night in, we're exhausted, cook up a meal of pasta, then proceed to drink copious amounts of boxed wine in front of the cheery warm fire. Usually, I have a nice campfire buzz going by 10, so when I stumble into the sack, I'm out like a light til my stomach acts up hours later (see last blog), and this night was no exception. There I lie, snoring, dreaming I'm sleeping next to George Clooney, when for NO REASON, I suddenly wake up.

What was that? My eyes fly open.
I reach for my flashlight but can't find it.

Ever wonder what a bear sounds like when it's pitch black out?
It sounds like a giant, drunken, obese guy, stumbling around in the woods, looking for his car keys. Yup. I sat up in my tent, listening. It's a tremendously LOUD sound--Crunch, swack, crumble, crunch, swack, crumble, SNAP!

"Dude," I whisper loudly towards Ivy's tent, afraid that opening my tent door might be inviting the bear to our whereabouts.
"ZZzzzzzzzz, snore."
"Dude!" I say a bit louder this time.
"Zzzzz, snore."
"Dude, damnit, wake up," I try again.

The irony here is that I AM the one who usually sleeps through things, especially with a gut full of booze and pasta.

Suddenly, I realize I need to pee then remember that the header is about a 15 hike through the woods, along an unlit, uneven trail.

So what noble act of courage do I do?

I lay back down and listen. Slowly, the noises move farther up the mountain, eventually disappearing. I do not fall asleep until almost dawn.

Now here's the crazy thing. It's not the BEARS you need to be afraid of. It's the other campers.

As we were getting ready to haul out the next day, we saw that the campsite below us were getting a reprimand from a park ranger for having a large bag of food and trash hanging from a tree limb about 3 feet off the ground. We overheard the ranger explain that having bacon remains in the trash, and a bag of cookies and candies hanging next to it wasn't exactly a wise idea. Ivy and I just looked at each other. Bacon remains in the fucking trash? Cookies and candy? Are you shitting me? We copiously follow the rules about cooking, keeping food out of camp, changing clothes, hauling away trash, etc. I imagined how the scenario could have gone the night before: the bear using the bacon as a sort of crudites/appetizer, lolling about to OUR campsite for the main course.

So remember, it's not the BEARS you got to fear when you're camping, it's the damned hayseeds camping next to you!

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