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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