“How do you feel about the eighteenth?” I asked Jim, my fiancé at the time, while trying to plan our trip. I’d never desired a wedding, so we chose to elope and surprise everybody.
“Works for me,” he shrugged.
“Okay cool because Aunt Flo will happen the week before so I think we’d be clear even if I was late, but there’s no way I’d be that early.”
“Whatever you wanna do is fine with me,” he said kissing the top of my head.
“Cool! We have a wedding date!”
Fast forward to August 19th, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We had just become husband and wife, and were enjoying our week long honeymoon. We were hiking a trail that ran along the perimeter of Leigh Lake. It was close to sunset. We rounded a corner….and froze.
We’d read all the advisories: “what to do if you come face-to-face with a bear“:
Don’t turn your back to them, it’s too submissive and they will attack.
Don’t look them in the eye, it’s a challenge to them.
Don’t run, you’ll elicit a chase.
Back away slowly so they know you’re not a threat.
But when fear seizes your throat, the fright and flight instinct has a way of moving your muscles for you.
We turned around, immediately breaking the first rule. Shocked. Scared. We began walking away, quickly, but good lord it was such an effort to keep from running. We had no idea if it was following us.
After what seemed like forever and every cuss word in the book uttered under panicked breath, we braved a quick, over-the-shoulder glance.
Whew! The trail was clear, but we didn’t slow our pace. Gripping each other’s arms we continued to fast-walk the hell outa there.
“Wow, that fucker was huge,” I panted. “It was so creepy the way it was just standing in the trees, swaying.”
“Standing? I saw it run across the trail towards the water. Looked like a baby.”
A chill ran up my spine. “Mother of God, there were two! A mother and her baby! Mothers are the most aggressive!”
“Holyshitholyshitholyshit we were just so damn lucky!” he said glancing over his shoulder again.
As soon as we confirmed she wasn’t after us, we started running. In fact we ran like chicken-shits all the way back to the car.
Half an hour later we arrived at our hotel room, still shaken, not able to believe what had just happened. You hear about seeing bears in the wild, but when you actually see one right in front of you, it’s astonishing how terrified and vulnerable you feel.
I went to the restroom to empty my full bladder, relieved I hadn’t peed my pants in the woods, and that’s when I realized something horrific.
The bear sighting had scared me so bad, it awakened Aunt Flo.
Three weeks early.
On my honeymoon.
Have you ever had a bear encounter, or seen some other large animal in the wild? Or, have you ever had a vacation ruined by something unexpected? I love to hear your stories!