This weekend, Mr B and I went on our first camping adventure of the year. It was a very last minute decision--when we saw that they weather would be great and realized we wouldn't have another free weekend to camp until June. We got off work at 4pm. By 5pm we were packed and in the car. By 6:30p we were setting up camp.
Normally we don't car camp--we are more the type to hike out to the middle of backcountry-nowhere. But for such a quick and last minute trip our goal was to get out into nature, find a peaceful spot, build a fire and breath some fresh air. However, even car camping doesn't send us to a designated campground (I'm perfectly comfortable peeing behind a tree if it means being away from other people). We just went out to National Forest Land and looked for a good place to set up camp.
Our first choice of campsite I rejected on the grounds of giant flying ants (nope. nope. all the nopes). We found an acceptable space a couple miles up the road. It was just a hop skip and a jump off the forest service road. There were bunches of pine trees and clumps of aspen trees, with large amounts of flat open space easy to set up a tent, campfire and have a great view.
We could tell that we weren't the first to camp there because there was already a ring of rocks for a fire and there was a notice nailed to a tree about bear safety. After all of the backcountry miles (and miles and miles) we've done, we definitely know how to camp bear safe...and this time we wouldn't even have to string up our food because we could just leave it in the car.
Our dinner was delicious and easy--roasted hot dogs. For dessert we made woof'ems stuffed with nutella and berries. We sat around the campfire and reminisced about camping as kids and some of the camping adventures that we have had together. The weather was gorgeous. We listened to the forest sounds and especially all the birds we could hear. We saw swans fly over and could hear geese, ducks and cranes. We talked about how we hoped we would see some in the morning as we headed out since we mostly likely wouldn't see any other big animals at that campsite (not like when we have had white tailed deer walk right through our campsite in Glacier National Park! or the Elk when we were in Banff!)
We had the luxury of a large and spacious tent (since we didn't have to pack it anywhere). The frogs sang us to sleep. Then we woke up a million times because we didn't pack our really nice down mummy bags, thinking it would be fun to take the old flannel and fabric ones that zip together, and we froze. :)
In the morning, it was all about a fire to get us warm and a serious breakfast. Normally, on camping trips, we just do a cup of instant oatmeal for breakfast because we are packing and only have the ability to boil water. Plus, we are usually in a hurry to break camp and hit the trail. But Saturday our only plan was to eat breakfast and then head back to "real life" so we were in NO hurry. And we had the camp stove plus a dutch oven. So I had planned a full on, completely loaded, unhealthy and utterly delicious breakfast hash. As I fried up the bacon, onion and sausage, we noted that camping had never smelled so good before! Once the hash was completely done up and cheesed out, I said "Man, if I were a bear, this is what I would want for breakfast!"
As if it couldn't get any better, we decided to make a woof'em and stuff it with the hash. Yes, please! Out came the dough and the berries. Just as I was rolling some dough to start cooking, Mr B says (with shock in his voice) "Oh my gosh! It's a bear!" I looked up and didn't even have to look around or say "where?" because it was Right. There. Out in the open. Walking toward our campsite. Less than 100 yards away.
A grizzly bear. A HUGE live, grizzly bear.
I didn't pee myself.
But my heart did stop. And all the bear safety left my mind and all I could say was "what do we do???"
Mr B stayed calm and told me we needed to get to the car---he had left the bear spray in the tent. That's when I realized we were going to have to go TOWARD the bear to get to the car. But I trusted him, so we moved cautiously but determinedly to the car. When we got to the car, the bear was only about 30 yards away from the other side of the car. When I opened the car door, the bear looked at me. Looked right at me.
I still didn't pee myself. Surprisingly.
But man, I got a shot of adrenaline so large that my hands were shaking for a good 30 minutes after.
The bear kept on walking by. After a minute Mr B shoved the phone in my hands (I was in the front seat and the bear was walking away in front of the vehicle) and said "video it!" The video was pitiful. My hands were shaking and we were talking with all the terror in our voices and the bear was already a good distance away at this point. But here is a still from the video.
He just walked away. Never checked out our fire or breakfast or us (thank heaven!) more closely.
After all the miles that we walk in bear country, far far away from civilization and we have a grizzly wander through our camp when we are CAR camping.
I'm very glad we got to see such a majestic creature. And I am totally content NEVER seeing one in the wild that close again.