Writers Workshop: The War Creek Bear


Last updated 3/16/2023 at 12:50pm

I was scared. Like cold sweat, heart pounding scared. I knew it was all over. A bear was going to have me for lunch.

It was late summer and the bear population was pretty serious about getting fat before winter. We didn’t see bears very often, but there were plenty of signs that they were around.

Our Forest Service trail crew was camped on War Creek. We were maybe a week into a two-week trip and about eight miles in from the trailhead. The four-man crew was doing trail maintenance, and I was doing the cooking and tending to the camp and the packhorses. We were making use of an old trapper’s cabin. It was kind of small, but had a cook stove, a table with a couple of chairs and a double bunk-bed.

On this particular day, the crew was still up the trail somewhere and I didn’t need to start getting supper for an hour or two. Taking advantage of the slack time, I was laying on the lower bunk reading a paperback western. The cabin door was open to let in a little breeze. The bugs and insects were humming and chirping. Everything was quiet and peaceful.

Suddenly, I was startled by a strange sound just outside the cabin door. I held my breath, listening. Unmistakable sounds of animal footsteps, sniffing and snuffing of hungry breath.

The clicking and rattling of sharp claws in the steps and then on the cabin floor.

Frozen with fear, I imagined the worst – a huge grizzly with beady red eyes and saliva dripping from monstrous teeth-filled jaws.

Panic-stricken, but unable to hold still another second, I leaped off the bed. In one jump I was at the woodpile by the stove.

Grabbing a chunk of wood, I whirled around ready to fight for my life and stared right into the beady eyes of — a porcupine.


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