Thursday, September 9, 2010

Big Bear Update

I realized that after my last post about the Mt. Whitney adventure a major portion was missing.  I'm certain all the Kidhammon groupies will want to know about our encounter with the wilder side of nature while high on the mountain.  To set the scene, when we first came into the campground at Whitney Portal there were signs everywhere to be "Bear Safe"  meaning put all your food into the bear locker provided at each campsite.  The first night we were meticulous in putting all our food into the locker and needless to say we had no problems and I personally thought the whole bear thing was overblown and much ado about nothing.

The following is an accurate and factual account of what actually happened as I remember it.  Due to the extreme trauma, darkness, and danger involved, others may remember it a bit differently:

The second night and the night before we set out to actually climb the mountain we did the prudent thing and placed all our foodstuffs in the locker and retired for the night.  Our plan was to get up at 3:00 am to get our shit together and be on the trail at 4:00 am.  So, about 3:15 in the morning four sleepy guys were huddled around the camp table wearing headlamps, sorting through our food, stuffing backpacks etc. when someone (I don't remember who) yelled BEAR !!  I looked up with my headlamp and there was the biggest bear I've ever seen in my life.  The bear was up on his hind legs growling like some kind of monster.  I was immediately reminded of the grizzly Robert Redford had to fight in the movie "Jeremiah Johnson".  I was terrified as was John and Russell and pretty much the best the three of us could do was start shouting "shoo bear" and backing up.  Then suddenly, my little brother Denny's Navy SEAL training kicked in and with an amazing presence of mind and in total disregard for his own personal safety, grabbed a machete that was conveniently at hand and thrust his Delta tuned body between the three of us, our granola, and the raging bear.

We thought for sure Denny was a goner.  Somehow during the melee Denny broke the machete in half and with only a stub he was able to fight off the marauding devil.  The last we saw that ole griz was hightailing it out to search for easier pickin's.  John was lucky enough to get this quick pic of the bear just before Denny chased him off.

We had the opportunity to speak with some of the local mountain folk and it is almost certain that our encounter was with a bear that has attained almost mythical status in the Lone Pine area and the locals refer to it as the "Silverback of the Sierras".

This only my account of the incident. Others who were present may be able to fill in some of the details and facts that I don't recall and I encourage them to do so.

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