Sunday, March 30, 2014

My bear story

As a kid I attended Camp San Joaquin in Sequoia National Forest each summer. Instead of participating in the regular "kumbaya" camp session for the ninth grade, I elected to go on the high school boys backpack trip on the High Sierra Trail.

At camp our adult leaders divided the food and equipment, briefed the boys on trip expectations and back country safety. Father Fletcher Davis, an accomplished backpacker and mountain climber, explained the realities of trail life, including foot care, burying human waste and bears.

As a lifelong backpacker myself (at the ripe age of 13 or 14!), I half listened. Father Davis continued onto the topic of black bears, a very real reality in the Sierra Nevada back country. If a bear wanders into camp, bang the pots and pans in a loud manner, he explained. Nine times out of ten the bear will run.

Somehow the math didn't work out for one alert boy. What happens on the tenth time, he impatiently asked? Father Davis' retort was calm and to the point: You won't be around to know!

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