Thursday, September 9, 2010

Terry and the Bear

Whoever thought up this parenting thing, anyway? Oh sure, children are cute when they're babies, but they grow up to go hiking alone and get attacked by bears. Who needs that kind of worry in her life?



So, my daugher (pictured at left with Chango) has this particular rigorous hike she makes several times a week. Sometimes a neighbor hikes with her, but most often she hikes solo. The exercise, along with the vista from the top of the hill, helps her keep emotional equilibrium.



I have to digress here and explain that, when I wrote Snakewater Affair, Spider Latham came face to face with a cougar, and I found in my research that, with a cougar, you are to make yourself as large as possible--hold your coat over your head--and make lots of noise. Terry remembered that. Unfortunately, that's not what you're supposed to do with bears.



Here is the story in her own words.



It was just me, my Ipod, and my Great Dane, Chango. Willoughby was confessing his true love of Maryanne to Eleanor. I couldn't believe it! They had left that part out of the movie. I was just about to reach the overlook of my five-mile hike at the juciest part of Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibility.



I was drawn away from the story when I heard the dog bark and saw, about 100 yards away, a big black bear. I was surprised but not alarmed. In fact, my emotion was more dissappointment that I wouldn't get to enjoy the view of Skagit Valley from that vantage point, as that was the purpose of the hike. I had seen black bear on hikes before and found them harmless as long as I kept my distance.



As I headed downhill, I heard a scuffle and turned to see Chango running away and the bear charging toward me! I was thinking, "I don't believe this." My eyes saw a cuddly, furry, black teddy bear, but my brain assured me this wasn't going to be pleasant. I tried to make myself look as big as possible and made lots of wild screaming noise, but the bear wasn't deterred. As he got within arm's reach, I walloped him on the head with my Ipod/cell phone case, which sent my phone flying. So much for my chance at 911.



The bear knocked me down and proceeded to claw at me. All the while, I'm thinking, "This is stuff you read about in the newspaper and can't be happening to me." Chango came to my rescue and pulled the bear's attention from me. I was relieved to see the bear running away from me as he chased Chango down the hill. But my relief turned when the bear did, and I found myself again waving my arms, screaming, and trying to look ferocious as the bear tore back up the hill to assault me afresh.



I have always thought Chango a dumb and obnoxious dog, though I love him dearly. But that night he became my hero as he tore up the hill and attacked the bear before she could attack me again. (I figure the bear was a 'she' and was probably protecting her young, so I could not fault her.)





With Chango wrestling the bear, I took that as my cue to run as fast as I could downhill. I fear I must have been quite the sight, becaue I did not leave off the screaming and arm flailing. I am sure I did not look ferocious on retreat. The dog got free from the bear, and the three of us--the bear, Chango, and I--went tearing down the hill.



The bear finally stopped, but I didn't. I ran about halfway down the mountain, and when I was quite sure that I was safe, I went back to Willoughby's confession.



I came away from the incident with claw tears on my jacket that left scratches and bruises on my arm and a scratch on my face not worthy of stitches (I was hoping for an excuse for plastic surgery.)

So I now have steri-strips and a story to tell, but I'm hindered in sharing, as my phone is on the mountain, guarded by a bear.



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46 comments:

Tristi Pinkston said...

Oh, wow. I have chills. I'm so glad she's all right! It sounds like she was watched over by heaven as well as a dog.

And I'm also now going to have to go read Sense and Sensibility. How could they have left that out of the movie? Hello - major plot point!

CTW said...

Wow, frightening indeed. Time to buy the bear spray.

Liz Adair said...

Yup, bear spray, indeed, as I'm sure I can't talk her out of a sedate hike along the local rails to trails route.

We're grateful she's all right, too.

I'm with you, Tristi--gotta read that book again.

Kari Pike said...

Wow. That is just crazy scary. I am so glad that Terry is ok...and Chango too! What a good dog! I agree with you on that parenting thing, too. Love you Liz!

Liz Adair said...

Thanks, Kari,

It all turned out all right, but if I hadn't been gray before, I certainly would be now.

Joan Sowards said...

Amazing experience. Thank goodness daughter and canine came out all right.

David J. West said...

Battle scars and everything-I admire her smile in the bloody pics. Quite a true life adventure.

Liz Adair said...

Thanks, Joan. But let's not forget the bear. She's probably telling her family about this crazy lady she met on the trail last night.

Liz Adair said...

Yeah, David. I could do with less true life adventure. I'm all about fiction. However, look for a bear attack in my next book. I'm shameless.

Valerie Ipson said...

Now how are you going to be able to let her go back up the mountain? Scary.

Liz Adair said...

I hear you, Valerie. Agency is a tricky business.

But then, I wouldn't want her to be a fraidy-cat, either.

franciebugs said...

Wow! SO glad she's alright! What a tough cookie! I too love the smile on her face - it's as if she's saying, "Yep, a bear attacked me today, so what?"

Liz Adair said...

Yeah, that's Terry. I wasn't feeling like smiling right then. I insisted she have it checked out at the ER, and she humored me.

G.G. Vandagriff said...

Oh my heck! I can't believe it! She has chutzpa and courage as well as being a great writer! So glad she's okay!

Liz Adair said...

Thanks, GG. I'll tell her you think she's a good writer. She loves a good story, I know, and this is a great one.

Heidiwriter said...

Oh, my gosh, Liz. This IS a chilling story, but thank God it wasn't a Grizzy! And that Terry is all right.

Liz Adair said...

Yeah, Heidi, I don't even want to think about a Grizzly.

Annette Lyon said...

She's got a great attitude about the whole thing--I'd be a sobbing heap of something. SO glad she's okay.

Jane Isfeld Still said...

My thought was whew it wasn't a Grizzly. She is SO lucky. I grew up in Canada and every year bear attack victims were brought to the hospital where I worked. Not pretty.
Cute girl. Even with a long bear claw scratch. :)

Liz Adair said...

Thanks, Annette. I keep thinking of that old Phil Harris song about the preacher and the bear where he prays, O Lord, if you can't help me, for heaven sakes don't help that bear.

Liz Adair said...

Jane--I agree with you about the Grizzly part. I don't know that we have them in the mountains around us. But I think the black bear could do plenty of damage. We're grateful on a lot of counts.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Oh my stars! Your daughter was lucky that she had her dog with her. What a brave duo they made fighting that bear off.

Liz, you've got to use this in a book.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a story and she told it in such an adrenaline pumping, heart pounding manner. Glad Terry and Chango are okay.
Cheryl N

Liz Adair said...

Thanks, Kathi and Cheryl,

We're very grateful for Chango. I won't even mind him slobbering all over me after this.

I'll tell Terry you liked her story, Cheryl.

Susan G. Haws said...

I am so glad she and the dog are alright! Some little angel was watching out.

Tanya Parker Mills said...

Wow. I don't think I'll ever think of Sense and Sensibility again without picturing your daughter running and screaming down the mountain, chased by a bear.

Just make sure she never goes hiking where there are grizzlies! And buy that dog an extra treat for Christmas.

Liz Adair said...

Thanks for commenting Susan and Tanya. I agree an angel was watching--one that wasn't scared of taking on a bear. And yes, Tanya, I see the dog in a whole new light now. He goes on my Christmas list for sure.

Marsha Ward said...

Wow! Just wow! So glad Terry and Chango came safely home!

ver word: comeadic
So not, even misspelled!

Liz Adair said...

Me, too, Marsha. She went back up today to find her phone, but the bear must have picked it up. If you're in her address book and hear a gruff voice, it's not Terry.

♥ Gloria said...

WOW!!!!! ... Terry is one brave woman!!!! I am so glad to know she is safe! I think maybe the solo trips should stop or some bear spray is in order at the very least!

Monique said...

Liz I've just been thinking about this all day! I'm so grateful she is ok. I've lost her contact info so please let her know. Ugh what a scare.

GoofyJ said...

Oh man! What a story! So glad she is ok - quite a hero that dog. So - what exactly are you supposed to do if you meet a bear? (Just helping you do research for your next book - heh :-) )

Krista said...

Terry, I am so glad that after all of that you are ok. We love you tremendously and you are in our thoughts and prayers. Thank Heaven you are alright!

We Love You!

Krista (Gifford) Marchant

Anonymous said...

Wow, where was she when this happened?

Laurie LC Lewis said...

Oh my gosh! Your poor daughter! And her poor mother! Bless Chango! I'm so glad this turned out so well. Yikes! There's an LDS guy who has a talk tape out about surviving a bear attack. Either your daughter has fodder for a great speaking career or you have material for a heck of a chapter in a book! I need Prosac just from reading this!

Liz Adair said...

Wow, I missed a lot of comments when I left the computer last night. Thanks all who commented, and I'll reply to all of you in this comment.

Yes, Gloria. Bear spray is certainly in order. I'm thinking of getting her a case of it for her birthday.

Monique--I'll tell her you've been on her mind.

Julia--I'm pretty sure what you're supposed to do is drop to the ground, assume a fetal position, and cover your head and neck with your arms--essentially play dead in a defensive position.

Krista--I'll make sure Terry reads your comment so she feels your love and concern.

Anonymous--Terry was hiking in the foothills east of Sedro Woolley. We're in Cascade Mountain country here in Northwest Washington.

And yes, Laurie, you will see one of my heroines meeting up with a bear in some future book.

Thanks to all for reaching out with comments.

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen said...

Holy Cow! I'm so glad she's all right. And she sounds like a true nature enthusiast to feel so calm about it, even now. To me, this is the stuff of nightmares. Or novels. :)

Janette Rallison said...

Oh my heavens! It's a good thing she had a big, loyal dog around. My westie would have been no help (and probably wouldn't have tried, the coward.)

Liz Adair said...

Actually, Ronda, isn't a bear some sort of archetypal symbol in dreams? Seems like I learned that a long time ago--probably something that's been disproved since.

And Janette, I'll bet your westie would surprise you in that kind of situation. If they were originally bred for hunting badgers--well badgers are pretty ferocious. I'll bet there are brave genes in there somewhere.

Rachelle said...

That is an amazing story--I can tell her mother is an author! I'm glad she's okay, but how scary!

Liz Adair said...

Yes, Rachelle, she's got the storyteller's genes, which means, you can make ANYTHING into a good tale.

Linda Adams said...

Wow. Utterly scary. I'm glad everyone is all right.

Zany G {Joyce} said...

Wow Liz, what an adventure! Now are you gonna have a fight with your daughter about which one of you get to use the experience in your next book? LOL

When we lived in Alaska there were several stories of loved dogs fighting off bear. We had a St.Bernard at the time & I was sure if she were old enough she would protect me... she was just a big overgrown baby at the time. She's in Heaven now.

After reading your blog I was out walking with my two dogs and wondered if they would be so brave. I decided that indeed Daisy would be but not so sure about Spidie (she's a scardy cat).

Can't wait for your next book either!

~Joyce

Liz Adair said...

Thanks Linda and Joyce for sending strong thoughts our way. All is well.

And Joyce, you never know how brave your dog is until you're in that situation. I've always viewed Chango as an empty-headed bumbler of a dog. No more. He's my hero.

Tina Scott, the writing artist said...

How terrifying!!! After you get over the shock--years after--this will make a good scene in one of your novels. I'm so glad that everything turned out fine, and that all she has to show for it is a good story and a relatively small scar.

Liz Adair said...

Yeah, Tina. I'm just kicking myself that I didn't set my current WIP in a place where I could use it.

Well, I'll tuck it away and use it later. I can do that, since everything turned out all right.