Aside from riding my bike, I’ve spent the day relentlessly soliciting stories of bear encounters from locals. Despite Brooke’s eye rolling, conspicuous sighs, and pleas for me to resist the urge to ask, I can’t stop. Time and time again, I plunge headfirst into prying numerous locals for their personal bear stories. And, Brooke’s right, I shouldn’t ask, but I do anyway. My intentions are good, I swear. Ideally, I’m aiming to collect enough reassuring and disarming stories about bears so I end up less afraid. The opposite keeps happening though.
For instance, over breakfast I asked the gentleman sitting in the booth in front of us about bears. He simply said he carried a gun, and then he got extremely personal and asked me if I had a menstrual period. Understandably, I was perplexed and caught off guard by the question, and replied, “excuse me?” He repeated it again, louder. I said, “ah, yes, I sure do, ummmm, why?” He politely informed me that bears can smell that a mile away. Hmm, good to know, I guess.
So, armed with that particularly icky piece of information, Brooke and I set off to climb Togwotee Pass. It wasn’t bad, and due to road construction, we got to lift from a construction worker over the actual pass.
One obvious theme regarding bears is don’t keep food near you when you sleep, and keep all things that smell like food away from you. I have but one small problem with the rule. My sleeping bag smells like a ham sandwich.
I woke up in the church in Dubois to a woman cooking ham, onions and peppers and I swear the exhaust from the stove had to be shooting directly down on me. Because, tonight as I unrolled my sleeping bag the scent of ham and peppers wafted up at me and across the room to Brooke. Hmm. Not much to do about it at this point.
This afternoon, we were discouraged because everything is so expensive here, but in the end Brooke and I got a good deal on this cabin. I originally called and asked prices for camping, and was told it was $47 for a tent site. Outrageous! There are less expensive sites around, but none of those had bear boxes, water, toilets or showers. Brooke and I have food with us, and at a minimum require a bear box. In the end, we lucked out, mostly because we looked so exhausted and frustrated with the camping situation that we got a good deal on this cabin.