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The Book and the Bear (Brendan)

I have a bit of advice for those of you spending your days out in the forest.  Don’t read anything about any sort of animal attack the night before you venture out for a jaunt.  If it’s an excursion for pleasure you’ll quickly depart for the safety of your vehicle.  But some of us don’t have a choice because our work happens to coincide with being alone in the woods.

If you’ve been following the more recent chronicles on Wingtrip you know that Simone and I have voluntarily entered this situation.  In fact we coveted the opportunity to waltz about the wilderness.  But although the Sierra Nevada are fairly mundane say when compared to mountains of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that’s not to say they aren’t without their dangers.

I myself tend to be a worrywart and I’ve spent countless nights recently biting my nails over Hantavirus.  Crying myself to sleep at the thought of dying from mouse droppings auspiciously near my food or nose (No – I didn’t see any mice or droppings – but I might be a hypochondriac).  I suspect I’ve kept my roommates up with my whimpering.  But in all honesty, while Black Bears were certainly within my range of concerns before beginning to read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, they weren’t particularly high on the list.*

Bryson’s blasted book, which like all his books is hysterical (to the point of laughing out loud so much that you wet your bet at four in the afternoon) and a great read, has ruined bears for me.  Now when I hear a branch crack in my vicinity I start squirting adrenaline out of every orifice and suffer massive seizures.  His regaling of the merry and multiple bear attacks in his book have made it impossible for me to concentrate on my point counts.  Now when I see scat heavily laden with the remains of an omnivorous diet or that distinctive paw mark, my heart starts to beat like an obese 80 year old trying to run the new york marathon.  I rather think I prefer Cougars now – at least they just out right go for the kill.**

So my advice – from Simone and myself – is to avoid such whimsical stories of delight.  Ursus and el Oso can stay locked away in your subconscious for when you actually encounter one.  If you read A Walk in the Woods you’ll promptly defecate yourself to death just like Bryson would have.

*Since writing this Simone and I have both encountered bears.  They’ve all ran away as if we were firing mortar shells at them.

**I don’t want to add to any predjudice against bears or any other predators.  In the majority of cases they want little to do with you and Black Bears aren’t all out for your jugular.

Filed under: Field Work, Reading Suggestions, Sierra Nevadas

About the Author

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I am a natural history writer and photographer, obsessed birder, naturalist, and artist. When I'm not learning by reading, drawing, painting, taking photos, or being outside, I am probably asleep.

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