from my the house across the street

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Misunderstanding(?) Leads to Challenge

My Sister made an erroneous statement in her post on our trip to Glacier that I would like to take the opportunity to clear up. After our traditional trip to Polebridge for wonderful, fresh-from-the-oven, delectable pastries and some of the best coffee in the world, we wandered by narrow, twisting, rutted gravel road to make our acquaintance with Bowman Lake. With the exception of a couple other explorers, the lake and nearby campground were blissfully silent. The campground is smaller than our usual hangout at Apgar, and far more people in tents than in 35-foot RV's. Quiet. A bit more remote. A lot more peaceful.

Kathy said that we stay at Apgar campground because her sister (that would be me!) is spooked by the possibility of bears. Ha! She doesn't know me as well as I thought. Here's the real story: I will admit to being spooked about bears on our first trip there, and did get a bit freaked out at all the rules--especially the one about not going to bed in the tent in clothing that might have been worn during cooking or eating. Damn, that messed things up for me right there, especially when it was very strongly suggested that no food be taken into the tent. Man, one of the things I really like to do while camping is to make a really large mug of herbal tea, take it and a couple of cookies into the tent, and enjoy the snack while cozying up with a good book.

I ended up, that first year, being much more frightened of the campers in the neighboring spot--a busload (ok, minibus, there were only three guys) of drunken foreigners who seemed to want us to be real neighborly with them. Kathy brought her hatchet into the tent, and I found a nice big rock---just in case the neighbors lost their way in the dark and stumbled through our tent.

Interestingly enough, Kathy caught sight of Harry, a black bear, the following day while out kayaking. Harry was known to the rangers and the residents along Lake McDonald, and they routinely chased him away from the Apgar social scene. Another bear was spied by some other explorers in the park later in that week, and they were kind enough to stop and let us know of the bear's presence near our picnic spot!

Because I had safely made it through that first camping trip to Glacier without losing any limbs to hungry wildlife, I didn't even consider getting bear spray for the next trip there. Of course, I wasn't about to break any of the safety rules, and I wasn't going to get careless, but I was more relaxed. The following year found me experiencing very little anxiety about the possibility of an encounter with a bear. Maybe it was because our mom was there with us, and I knew she would sacrifice herself to save me!

Don't get me wrong, please. I have not adopted a totally cavalier attitude about the possibility of running into a variety of dangerous situations while in the mountains and back country. I've also decided that it doesn't make any sense for me to trade the bliss of being in the woods for gut-wrenching, twisted and knotted up inside, off-the-charts anxiety. I'll wait until I actually see the bear---or the cougar or mountain lion or whatever---to let fight or flight take over.

Staying at Apgar has nothing to do with being afraid. It's all about comfort---it's a quick walk to the village and a cafe mocha (four shots of espresso, please!) or huckleberry ice cream cone at Eddie's Store! They don't have that at Bowman Lake, but by golly, I'll forego those comforts and camp at Bowman next time---unless, of course, our mom is with us again!


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