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One day, some three years back, a couple of friends and myself decided it would be fun to take a little backpacking trip out to the middle of nowhere (Kananaskis Country, south and west of Longview, in Alberta). The plan was to take the same trail as we had once before (the trip with the sock incident), and just go a little farther. So we packed our gear, food, clothes, and of course my trusty Pentax, and set off. We crossed many streams by wading or by finding trees, and hiked a long way. We sat for lunch, and continued on, noticing but not really registering the significance of overturned rocks, messed up ant hills, and bear dung. It began to get late, so we ate our evening meal of chili and moved on up several hundred meters to find ourselves a campsite. Having setup camp and hung our food over a cliff (there where no exceptionally handy trees of any great height), we bedded down for the night. We told jokes and made rude noises, as is so often done on camping trips, and eventually fell asleep.

Around midnight, by a buddies watch, we awoke with an feeling of dread to the sound of something sniffing at our tent. Not knowing what this manner of creature this may be not 4 feet from our heads, we lay there quaking in our sleeping bags, till courage enough took us to making noise to try to scare what ever it was away. We heard feet moving around us, and we hit at the side of the tent, and make fierce sounds, till a gallop carried the source of the sounds some distance from us. Courage (or adrenaline, and maybe testosterone) took us, and we open the flaps of the tent and peered into the darkness, to see what manner of beast had come to rouse us from our sleep.

There, not twenty feet from the front of our tent, stood a small black bear. Not one to waste a photo op, I grabbed for my camera and tried to take a picture. Alas, it being midnight(!) and the moon none to bright, I could get nothing on the light meter, and no picture of our tormenter. My friends thought I was crazy (and will still testify to this fact), but truly taking a picture was my first impulse upon glimpsing the bear.

We spent the next minutes shaking in our boots and making as much noise as possible, in hopes of scaring the bear away. I was sad that I didn't get a picture. We did finally sleep again, and never heard from the bear again.

It's darn lucky that we (mostly) knew what we were doing, in not keeping food or anything tasty (other than ourselves) inside our tent. I'm also really glad we didn't eat dinner at our final campsite, for that my have been a very large error. In retrospect, the signs of bear were clear, and it would have been much smarter to stay clear of its territory. But that wouldn't have made as good a story.

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