Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Bear·a·noia [bear-uh-noia] – noun

1. A mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal conflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of bears, sometimes progressing to disturbances of consciousness and aggressive acts believed to be performed in self-defense.
2. Baseless or excessive suspicion of the motives of bears.

As a novice camper and the only girl on my recent 8-day American Rambler mountain trek, I was bound to be picked on and the butt of many jokes. Regardless, I hate to admit that the first 2 days/nights of the trip, they had me completely FREAKED out about bears! You see, bears (700lb grizzlies and tree climbing black ones) inhabit the great Teton Mountains, Yellowstone AND Glacier National Park - all places where I was to rest my pretty little head to each night. Bears apparently have an acute sense of smell, light-years beyond what normal homo sapiens can think about smelling, and they use it to find food. No big deal right? Lock up the food and you’re good? Have you heard of a Bear Bin? I may have made up that term, but it’s a huge metal coffin with chains and a yellow warning sign that reads: Be Bear Aware. It ALL smells to a bear. Please take care. Lock it up!

Bear coffin

And by saying it “ALL” smells that must mean me right? The boys had me believing that it was quite probable for a bear to come wandering through our camp to rummage for food and penetrate my oh-so-comforting paper-thin sheet of protection known as a tent! My genius plan was as the guidebooks advise: play dead and try not to pee myself! It didn’t help that just the week prior to our trip someone had been mauled TO DEATH in this neck of the woods by a ferocious man-eating bear (maybe I’m exaggerating a bit)! You know it’s serious when people carry special Bear spray and bells!

Our first night campsite!
These warnings/threats gave me OCD tendencies of checking and rechecking my bag to make sure it was void of any toiletries or food or smelly stuff. To this end, they convinced me that even wearing deodorant was risky and that I should forgo it the following day on our 10 mile, 3k elevation hike…and I did!!! Only to find out the following day that they had all worn deodorant and thought it was pretty heeelarious that I believed them. Grrrr…I was so mad that I considered painting their tents with honey, but a small part of me was still “bearanoid” so I refrained. As the saying goes, “All’s well that ends well.” We returned from our trip safe and sound without a single bear scare (much to the boys dismay)!

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