As the sun came up, I was walking the couple of miles back to I-10. In the night, I had resolved to offer my third day as a final push for
My shoulder’s were tender from the excess I had packed and my feet ached from the blisters I had drained and duct taped before setting off, but the morning was breezy and cool and I had plenty of water as long as I wasn’t burning it out of my body in the sun. Hours went by before Scott picked me up. Here’s how I remember him:
Scott was a 23 year old college student from
I stopped at the ranger station and bought a topographical map of the area that showed area trails in the basin. “The Window” was apparently a sight not to miss and since my ambitious Grizzly Adams agenda had been castrated by the sun, I equipped a daypack and hiked the 4.4 miles to this point of interest I’d heard so much about. This is the only picture I took of myself:
Spectacular. A small stream cut through shadowy canyons to trickle out into the vast open. A strong wind blew in through the Window's steep aperture and between it and the bubbling spring, there was only nature. It was getting dark and because I had an irrational fear of being mauled to death by a black bear or mountain lion, I started back. I was just becoming comfortable with the fact that an animal would not kill me and, in fact, was enjoying the rare sighting of a slate-throated redstart when I heard a thrashing in the sloping vegetation beside me. I instinctively made a guttural protest in its direction and it thrashed even more. I walked faster, careful not to run. There was another rustling as whatever the thing was kept pace with me so I stopped moving and the sound continued on. I was rethinking my ignoring a trail warning that advised not to hike the Window near dark, when the ominous sound stepped out of the bushes and became a black bear. I surprised myself by not panicking, though I did take a few absent steps backward. It was a juvenile and what filled me with the most dread was the potential for a bigger and more aggressive mama bear into tow. But manliness aside, there was still a bear blocking my path. The ferocious man killer stood in the trail and stared at me with demonic red eyes, blood and gore (in my mind) dripped from its bared jowls and it pawed the earth with only just contained energy, so I took the opportunity to slowly uncap my camera and snap this picture.
It didn’t move and I certainly wasn’t going to squeeze past it so I reached down and picked up several rocks then raised my arms above my head and roared. The poor thing bounced in dopey surprise and clumsily tried to hide its awkward bulk in the bushes, where it could still watch me. I ventured a few steps and guiltily tossed a rock at the ground where it was hiding and it ran off for good. I didn’t hear much brush rustling, though, so I knew he was probably just hiding better. I still feel guilty for scaring it. It was just a curious kid.