Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 10...Yogi, Boo Boo and His Bear Pals

Just the start of Jordan Canyon
(Warning a little bad language in this entry)

There is the famous line from the Wizard of Oz..."Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more." This would best describe the transformation into Jordan Canyon Tr-157. It was like I entered the Emerald City. Each step brought me even closer to deep, bright green ferns, trees and waste high bamboo shoots. On a hint from my friend David I also looked out for and could confirm lots of mint in the area. This along with the high canyon walls had me memorized.

So entranced I was with the beauty of this lush canyon... I failed to notice time, further surroundings or even great picture opportunities.  I can only tell you this canyon made the trip worth it and held some of the most wonderful breathtaking views these eyes have ever seen. I finally, fully got it! If people only came to this place they would have un-refutable proof of a God.

My description of this was just in the first few moments of being there. It only gets better as the stroll goes on. I say stroll and not hike because when you are in this canyon... The pack is no longer heavy, your legs feel fresh as if its the first mile and any notion of concern is lifted

This trail has to crisscross the Gila 25+ times because you will run out of trail on one side; leaving you with sheer rock formations that are impassable unless you cross to the other side. Not a problem when your lost in all this beauty. Here if I would have fallen in, I would have just laughed it off. Funny how surroundings change your feelings about a situation.

There is also a line from another movie, a Harry Potter movie in fact. " Yeah, take it away, Ernie! Fasten your safety belts, clench your buttocks! It's going be a bumpy ride!"... So as quick as my pleasure trip down this path was full of excitement it became shall we say a little more exciting.

I should explain that when in bear country one of the deterrents is a bell; that rings to alert and hopefully scares bears into the thought of leaving the area. You also make noise when you backpack alone. Clap, sing (yea sing) tap your stick on logs etc... just making general noise from time to time. Randomly making these noises really becomes second nature and is a must.

You go on many trips and never see any bears at all... However, sometimes, like on this late afternoon; you seem to encounter a sleuth or sloth of them. It was getting to be that time of day and hearing the rustling of the first two bears (They make a very distinguishable thud noise) leaving the scene without actually seeing them makes me feel like its going to be a bumpy ride. Because if I don't have them in my line of sight and they do decide "Hey...Lets have Pete for dinner"... I really can't defend myself...

With fish like these I wouldn't move either
The third bear just was too much in the open to hid from my sight. He or She was quite agile, more so than I would have thought from a bear. So, while it was scary and worrisome; at least I knew exactly where it was and if it decided to do an "about face" on me I could respond. So if we are keeping score at home its Pete 3 VS Bears 0. However I should have known it was oly a matter of time before their "clean up hitter" would be at the plate so to speak.

Sure enough, at a river crossing with the trail ending on my side... There he was, looking very intent. Almost sitting directly in the middle of the river, studying it. I can only assume this was his personal fishing spot and I was not going to be welcomed. Despite all my ringing leading up to this; it did not deter him from his trance. I froze still with my mind racing...He seemed not to flinch for what seemed like an hour. Then suddenly, he took off running. I'm happy to say to the other side of the Gila. I'm happy but still not out of danger as he slowed down, stopped 10 yards from the his bank and had his eyes on me as he did that river before.

Words that came to mind with out me uttering a sound went something like this... "Shit, oh shit...I can't believe...shit. Holy, Fuckin Shit! Think, shit, fuckin think, oh shit and so on. Now would be a good time to make some noise and see what is what I guess... I ring my bell, but we already know how that helped. I wave my stick and make indescribable noises. Since I found my voice, at this point I'm sure some of my previous thoughts were flying out. Still if an eye batted or a muscle twitched on his part; I couldn't tell. Finally I bang my already broken stick against a log and yell... "I am man dammit! Yes...that is what came to mind and mouth...I will never know if it was the stick breaking once again or my final shrill that made him head uphill and out of my way; but he did at last.

Allowing me a path to continue, I realize I have a pressing problem on my hands. Night is coming even faster than if I were on high ground and I better set up camp some where soon. My stroll is near a full out sprint as I want distance from the him but know that the light is disappearing; fast.

The penalty for my late setup is no dinner and a quick hang of my food plus anything else that may attract you know who. My shoes are just soaked and I leave them outside and am in a clearing that had been used by many before me. As I zip up for the night I once again hear the now familiar thuds of a bear's steps. I lay still as to hope this orange bivy of mine will act as a frighting protection. I hear sniffing of my shoes and the thuds slowly fade away; hopefully he's not going for my food bag. Surprisingly I fall asleep very fast and relatively sound for the night with my last thoughts being...You guessed it... "Shit, oh shit...I can't believe...shit. Holy, Fuckin Shit! Think, shit, fuckin think, oh shit

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