“Remember now. What’s the first thing you do if you see a bear on the trail?”
“Take its picture!”
It’s a silly little ha-ha routine we do each time one of us goes hiking without the other, and it never gets old, because we are total derps.
But when it finally happened, we were on a backpacking trip together, and the photo came second. Maybe even third.
I’d just crawled into the tent and zipped myself snugly into my sleeping bag, while Tim was still outside buttoning down our campsite for the night.
The noise came from the brush about 40 feet from our tent, and Tim walked toward it to investigate.
The perpetrator had gone at a large tree stump, probably in search of grubs. Tim locked eyes with him for a hot second, then turned toward me and said, “It’s a bear!” And that was enough commotion to make the bear rethink his position, so he started moving away at a pretty good clip, which is when Tim finally followed directions, and took a picture.
No, we do not know for sure that the bear was male. We based our assumption on information we were given at the ranger’s station when we registered for our camping permit that morning. There’d been reports of a mama bear and two cubs in the area, as well as a lone juvenile male. Guessing ours was the latter.
So that’s the introduction to our most recent backpacking trip, August 27-29, in Olympic National Park. Of the three we’ve completed this month, this one offered the most jaw-dropping scenery, and the most wildlife sightings too!
Descriptions of our other two Washington backpacking adventures:
~ a post in honor of World Wildlife Day, March 3 ~
Although we’ve encountered lots of creatures while RV’ing around the country in The Toad, the only Bighorn we’ve seen in the wild is the one we live in. Notoriously shy, those sheep!
Most animals were outside the RV, living unperturbed in the environments where they belong — at least until I showed up and became the Annoying Human Taking A Selfie.
There was one notable exception. I don’t like talking about it, and I’m not sure it even qualifies as wildlife, but it definitely wasn’t a domesticated critter, and it was living inside our RV. I’ve got to work myself up to that one, so I’m saving it for last.
The others, in alphabetical order:
Armadillo – I’ve spent enough time driving in the Lone Star State to know exactly why these armored gray diggers are called Texas Speed Bumps. Yeah. Ewwwww. But I found a live one in Shreveport, LA, during an overnight stay at the Barksdale Air Force Base RV Park, so of course I positioned myself for a discreet selfie. The armadillo did not say no.
Bison – This guy was blocking our path to Frary Peak, the highest point on Antelope Island, in Utah’s Great Salt Lake. “Bison encounter” was one of those bucket list items I didn’t even know I had until I experienced it, and I wrote about it here. We’d been warned by multiple signs not to approach or feed the bison, but the signs didn’t say anything about begging them repeatedly to get out of the way, so that’s what we did. I think the poor bugger eventually got tired of listening to us, and trotted down the hill toward the females.
Burros – Wild burros are a common sight in rural western Nevada, and this group took their own sweet time crossing the road to the Rhyolite Ghost Town near Beatty.
Cat & Deer – Yes, together, and I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself. There’s a posse of feral cats at Kerrville-Schreiner Park in Texas, and we watched them interact with the deer on several occasions. Most of the time, each regarded the other in some bizarre form of woodland creature détente, but we once witnessed one of the kitties deliberately baiting one of the deer by sneaking up behind it and pouncing. The deer was not amused.
Elk – There we were, walking along a paved path on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, when I was able to take advantage of a unique opportunity: sELKfie for the win!
Fox – We were driving to a trailhead in Nevada’s Red Rock Canyon with fellow Heartland Owners, Dan & Lisa of Always on Liberty, when we saw this fox trotting across a parking lot. What does the fox say? I can’t tell you. What I said was, “A fox a fox a fox!” It’s very difficult to remain eloquent when faced with such a rarity.
Llama – On one of our first trips in The Toad, we went to Blanco State Park in Texas for a weekend escape. I was supposed to be guiding Tim as he backed the rig into our spot, but it took more than one try because — and I am not making this up — I was distracted by a llama. It kept grinning at me, I swear. See?
Whale – While visiting family in western Washington, we drove our whale of a rig onto the Port Townsend – Coupeville Ferry to get from one side of Puget Sound to the other, and were rewarded with a visit from a pod of orcas, right off the bow. So majestic!
Wild Ponies – The highest point in Virginia is Mount Rogers. To get to it, we hiked through Grayson Highlands State Park, which is home to a herd of wild ponies. I tried for a selfie with one of them too (it’s what I do) — and became a victim of what can best be described as “pony shenanigans.” While I posed with Pony A, Pony B took advantage of my distraction and tried to eat my backpack. Emily = stupid human.
The Thing That Ate My Pastry Brush – We had a critter in the RV last fall.
Based on the droppings we found, we were pretty sure that cockroaches were afoot (although it could have been a mouse), but whatever it was, it nibbled. the bristles. off. my silicone. pastry brush. Ack!
Nothing like spending an evening researching various types of vermin poop to make a girl feel sexy. I seriously though I was going to throw up, and contemplated bathing in boiling Purell, but instead set about cleaning and disinfecting every reachable surface in our kitchen.
And then I set out dishes of a vermin-eradicating cocktail composed of equal parts powdered sugar and Borax. Success! Emily = smart human.