Jim, Bryan and I woke up early after our first night camping in the Tetons so we could get an early start to get to our second campsite, which was about 15 miles away, a lot for us at the time. Our out-of-shapeness had hit new lows.
We got there early in the afternoon and had the two backcountry tent sites all to ourselves. It’s a damn good feeling to get to your campsite and realize that you have it to yourself, but it’s stressful as hell waiting around to find out if it’ll stay that way. It didn’t. A couple in their late 20s hiked in around 5pm, put up their tents, and immediately started looking over the ridge that had occupied our attention from the minute we had finished putting our food in the bear box. After a few minutes, the couple started walking towards us, binoculars in hands.
“You guys want to take a try at finding a grizzly? We’re not very good at this and, fuck, do we want to see one.”
“Sure.” I grabbed the binoculars and to my surprise, found a family of grizzly bears after 30 seconds of looking. No clue how. I’m bad at nearly everything I do and finding a bear off in a distance field is not one of my specialties. Or so I thought.
We all laid down in the grass until the sun went down and watched a grizzly bear and her cubs prance around a field for an hour. When they were finally out of site, a moose came along, like we had just changed the channel on the show we were watching. We shoved alcohol down our throats and our new friends went to bed early, leaving us for dead. A black bear came into our campsite that night. I don’t care what you say about black bears bla bla, if you’re in the middle of the Tetons and there’s a bear at your campsite, that is shit inducing scary. Call me whatever you want, I was scared. Frozen. I was hugging my roommate. We don’t talk about that embrace anymore.
We woke up the next morning, and much to our dismay, our new friends had left, and we never got to have that next day “HOLY SHIT, REMEMBER LAST NIGHT? BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE!” fest. Didn’t even get to say goodbye and, more importantly, didn’t get to tell them about the bear at our campsite.
Two weeks later, on a flight to Omaha, at DIA, I saw my two friends on the plane. They were 14A and 14B. I was 14C.