As the weather warms up, I have one thing on my mind. I want to go camping. I don’t get outside much during the winter, so I love the thought of an evening campfire and falling asleep to the sounds of nature.
Camping could be in my backyard or in the middle of nowhere. I’ll enjoy it either way.
I went on my most memorable camping trip six years ago. It was a bachelor party in the Boundary Waters. Five guys, two canoes, and the great outdoors.
Our trip began early morning on Fall Lake. The weather was perfect for a camping trip in May in northern Minnesota.
We spent the first day paddling, portaging, and fishing. After about seven hours, we started searching for a suitable campsite. We settled on a site on Pipestone Bay. It had a massive rock overlooking the lake, which provided beautiful views, but we all agreed to find a better spot in the morning. We quickly unpacked our gear, assembled our tents, and prepared a quick dinner.
We knew it was important to pack up our food and hang it high in the air before we went to bed. That way, any bears looking to get a free meal would be unable to reach our food.
We were all exhausted, so after we ate, we hoisted our remaining food high up a tree branch. Then we hit the hay.
Temperatures dropped that night. It was cold, but manageable. I woke up once or twice and curled up in my sleeping bag to stay comfortable. I seem to recall hearing noise outside the tent, but maybe I was simply dreaming.
Shortly after sunrise, I heard my friend Brian’s voice. It wasn’t terribly loud, and I thought nothing of it. Suddenly, he started to yell.
I woke up instantly and reached for a metal pot I used to boil water. My cousin Aron immediately crawled out of his sleeping bag and opened the tent. He was face-to-face with a black bear that had wandered into our camp. Aron didn’t back down. He was prepared and he began blowing on a whistle to scare the bear away. I was already making as much noise as possible by clanging on the metal pot.
I didn’t see the bear, but Aron said it looked at him for a moment, almost as if it considered taking a step towards him, before it turned and rambled away.
As the bear was running away, I started to relax, but Brian announced something that made my heart drop.
“It bit me,” he said.
“On the shoulder.”
For a moment, I began to think how we would get him to the hospital, and would he be OK? We spent seven hours paddling and portaging to get to our current location. How fast could we travel back in an emergency such as this?
Then I looked over at Brian and realized he seemed fine. No blood, no damage, not even a wince of pain.
He pulled his shirt over his shoulder and he only had four little red marks on his skin. The bear just nibbled on his shoulder through the tent’s wall.
It turns out, Brian didn’t realize there was a bear in the camp. He was sleeping in his one-man tent, which was low to the ground. When the curious bear started to bite him, he got annoyed and thought one of the guys was pulling a prank on him. When he opened his tent, he was face-to-face with the bear. That’s when he started to yell, and I don’t blame him.
We had a good laugh. The trip went smoothly after that and we returned home four days later with a unique story to tell. It’s not everyday your buddy becomes bear bait.
Chances are I’ll end up camping closer to home this year, but I look forward to my next trip to the Boundary Waters. Despite the bear scare, it’s postcard Minnesota.