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  1. #1
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    Touring Horror Stories

    So, you never hear much about the bad things that happen when touring. Not to dissuade anyone from touring, I'm just curious what kinds of really bad experiences/accidents/etc. that have occured when touring.

    thanks, and sorry about what happened

    Peter

  2. #2
    The view is the reward steephill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paloewi
    So, you never hear much about the bad things that happen when touring. Not to dissuade anyone from touring, I'm just curious what kinds of really bad experiences/accidents/etc. that have occured when touring.

    thanks, and sorry about what happened

    Peter
    Most people who tour are partly in it for the adventure so anything considered a "horror story" will only enhance the quality of the tour. I personally can't think of any horror stories other than losing my credit card in the Davis Mtns of West Texas.

  3. #3
    Long Live Long Rides
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    Agreed. On my very first tour I took a Jefferson bus (with bike) to Denver. I had everything I needed for over a week. My ride was from Denver to Colorado Springs to Manitou Springs. From Manatou, ride back to Kansas City, MO.

    I had $175 for food in a small under-the-seat bag. I bought some food at a local grocer in Manitou. An hour later, I stopped at the top of Cave Of The Winds to buy a souvenier. WTF!!? Where's my money??!!

    I spent the rest of the day in a panic (I had no credit cards at the time) looking for my money sock. It had fallen off my bike and landed in the middle of the street in downtown Manitou. It was a typical Cannondale gray color. It had also been run over so many times it blended in with the street!

    It really put a damper on my tour for a couple of days but it all turned out really good in the end. I laugh about the incedent now.
    Jharte
    Touring...therapy for the soul.

  4. #4
    Senior Member filtersweep's Avatar
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    I usually just get lost... completely lost....

  5. #5
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    The first couple of days on a tour are usually a horror story as your body accomodates to the new loads on it. For those days you start to believe that you'll NEVER make it.

    Then on the third or fourth day you start to come out of it. A day later and you feel great and forget all about your initial feelings. The mind is a wonderful thing.

  6. #6
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paloewi
    So, you never hear much about the bad things that happen when touring. Not to dissuade anyone from touring, I'm just curious what kinds of really bad experiences/accidents/etc. that have occured when touring.

    thanks, and sorry about what happened

    Peter
    On my world tour I was attacked by killer bees in Mexico; hit by hurricane mitch in Nicaragua; had an earthquake in Turkey, a coup-d'etat while in Pakistan, caught malaria in Thailand, and generally had such a great time I am planning another world tour from 2010-2012.

    roughstuff
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

  7. #7
    Aging Gearhead
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    On MY world tour, my ship capsized, I got caught in a burning skyscraper, aliens vivisected my riding companion, a giant gorilla ran off with my girlfriend, and my bike was crushed by the ice in the Waddell Sea. Oh, and it rained a little one day in Wisconsin.

    But seriously, Roughstuff, I'm envious, somewhat proving that "Most people who tour are partly in it for the adventure."

  8. #8
    Over 40 Member rivertrail's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steephill
    Most people who tour are partly in it for the adventure so anything considered a "horror story" will only enhance the quality of the tour.

    On the "last day" of my solo 6 week tour through France I got stung in neck by a bee. Due to the grace of God and some nice folks at a country gas station including a doctor who happened to be getting gas for his lawnmower as well as a kind staff at the hospital, I didn't die after discovering my bee sting allergy. It's an incredible story that's too long to post here. But, in many ways it was the highlight of the tour!
    '04 Calfee Tetra Pro, '04 Santa Cruz Blur, '05 Lemond Poprad, . . . Oh yeah, the grocery bike: mid 70's Schwinn Cruiser Deluxe with a deluxe iron oxide finish, Brooks saddle, front basket, and surf rack brackets.

  9. #9
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    Three tours in France. All of them were horror yet at same time
    the greatest experience. I suffer from terrible back condition
    (bulging disc, pinched nerve, etc). My three tours were in Dordogne,
    Pyrenees, French Alps. As soon as the gradient gets any more
    than 5 or so percent, I can ride about no more than a kilometer at at time
    until pain gets too much
    and then I have to stop, get off the bike, let the back relax a bit for five minutes and then
    repeat the pattern every km or so. There were times when I had to stop
    after half a km.
    Took me four and half hours to climb Tourmalet and Aubisque this way.
    Took two hours to climb Alpe d'Huez (I basically stopped
    after every one of those 21 switchbacks). Really SAD, in terms of
    time (but I thought so what, I made it up these
    famous climbs). I was in EXCRUCIATING pain the whole time on the
    climbs. I even crossed the Pyrenees (about 15 or so passes) coast to
    coast last year that way.
    But each time I got to the top, the pain was all forgotten.

    b/c of my bad back, I can't even train/exercise properly when at home
    so not only is my back bad, my cardio-vasc. is horrible and weak leg
    strength. There were times on the climbs I really regretted ever thinking
    of the idea but after all, it was all worth it.

  10. #10
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rivertrail
    On the "last day" of my solo 6 week tour through France I got stung in neck by a bee. Due to the grace of God and some nice folks at a country gas station including a doctor who happened to be getting gas for his lawnmower as well as a kind staff at the hospital, I didn't die after discovering my bee sting allergy. It's an incredible story that's too long to post here. But, in many ways it was the highlight of the tour!

    --Not intending to highjack the thread--

    Now that you know you are allergic to beestings, any difficulties taking epinephrine on flights in checked baggage (post 9/11)? I usually carry an epi-pen all the time (hiking, biking on campus-it's just allways in my bag), but have never flown with one. I'm not allergic (to my knowledge), but just include it in my basic medical kit.

    Thanks

  11. #11
    Really like your peaches
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roughstuff
    On my world tour I was attacked by killer bees in Mexico; hit by hurricane mitch in Nicaragua; had an earthquake in Turkey, a coup-d'etat while in Pakistan, caught malaria in Thailand
    Stay out of MY neighbourhood! Nothing to see here... move along now...

  12. #12
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    The road from Battambang to Pailin in the rain. Not only did it really mess up my hands, and a month later I still have a bit of numbness, it was just a hard and miserable ride. But when I look back on it, that was the most memorable day of a three week tour, and in 17 years if I am ever asked about the trip, all I'll remember is that road. And now to pimp the ride: check the Pailin section: http://www.mtl2.crazyguyonabike.com

  13. #13
    Doomsled funbun's Avatar
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    Well, there was this guy with a leather face and a chainsaw...
    Check it out:

    Blog The Travelogue

  14. #14
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    There was a recent thread about roughly the same topic.

    I can think of several things which would qualify as horror stories, but the one folks can most easily relate to, is the time the airline lost my bike at the beginning of the trip. It was never found.

  15. #15
    Doomsled funbun's Avatar
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    Did they buy you a new one?
    Check it out:

    Blog The Travelogue

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by funbun
    Did they buy you a new one?
    Hell no.

    It wasn't resolved until weeks after the trip was over. The trip itself was salvaged by borrowing an old bike from a friend whose home I had intended to ride to upon arrival. Instead, I took a train there. After a couple of days waiting for a bike I correctly felt I would never see again, we headed off together across France, as we had originally planned. I managed to put it out of my mind and had one of the best trips I've ever taken.

    As for the settlement with the airline, at that time, liability on international flights (at least by US carriers) was limited by the "Warsaw Convention" to $20/kg, up to 20 kg, i.e. $400 max. (this has since been raised). I received some additional compensation from a homeowners/renters insurance policy. Still, I was a out a fair chunk of change. I lost more than a good bike, as there were other items in the stolen box, including a down sleeping bag.

  17. #17
    One Hep Cat Joe Dog's Avatar
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    There I was (as all good stories start), bored and 15 years old, on a hot steamy day in July, hanging out with my highschool friend in the rolling hills of Wisconsin north of Milwaukee. We were both extremely experienced and capable riders (in our opinion) and decided that we should do some bicycle camping during our summer vacation time-off.

    We packed our small, inadequate tent and assorted other camping stuff into backpacks (who really needs panniers, anyway?) and set of to Pike Lake, located about 50 miles west in the vicinity of Holy Hill. Between the sun, heat, heavy hot backpacks and eponymous hills in Holy Hill, we nearly died on the way.

    But we did not!!

    We prevailed and arrived at camp in time to set up for the night.

    Unfortunately, that's when the TORNADO came. Trees were falling in the forest (but missed us, thank goodness) but our cheapie tent blew down as well. In a driving thunderstorm, with no lantern, we had to re-pitch the tent and live through the night. The good news was that it was stilll about 90 degrees and humid despite the rain, so we were not cold, but by morning the tent was the most horrible steamy locker-room smelling shelter I've ever been in.

    When morning finally came, we broke camp, packed wet and suffered the ride back home with the benefit of no sleep and wet clothes. We made it home and never did anything like that again the rest of our lives.

    True story.

  18. #18
    Steel is Real. markw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CL39
    Three tours in France. All of them were horror yet at same time
    the greatest experience. I suffer from terrible back condition
    (bulging disc, pinched nerve, etc).

    b/c of my bad back, I can't even train/exercise properly when at home
    so not only is my back bad, my cardio-vasc. is horrible and weak leg
    strength. There were times on the climbs I really regretted ever thinking
    of the idea but after all, it was all worth it.

    You ever consider a Recumbent touring bike? Bacchetta makes a Giro that makes a nice touring rig.

  19. #19
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toodman
    On MY world tour, my ship capsized, I got caught in a burning skyscraper, aliens vivisected my riding companion, a giant gorilla ran off with my girlfriend, and my bike was crushed by the ice in the Waddell Sea. Oh, and it rained a little one day in Wisconsin.

    But seriously, Roughstuff, I'm envious, somewhat proving that "Most people who tour are partly in it for the adventure."
    Wow...that gorilla must be Bisexual! He ran off with my boyfriend!

    Yeah...it was an adventure.

    roughstuff
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

  20. #20
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    Here's another good one. A friend & I were taking a Sealink ferry from Holyhead, Wales, to Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. We loaded our bikes and were about to go up to the deck when I was directed by a crew member to move my bike to a specific spot nearby. When we arrived in Ireland and went down to retrieve our bikes, I discovered that engine oil had been dripping onto one of my panniers and my sleeping bag throughout the sailing. The contents inside were saturated and ruined. I filed a claim on the spot, and Sealink paid me a fair settlement a few weeks later.

  21. #21
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    I saw them standing at the side of the trail. They were young-a man and woman - about 25, pulling trailers, and obviously had some miles under their belt. They seemed to be heading west while I was headed east. Since St. Charles, MO was only about 25 miles down the trail, I figured that they were just starting out. I, on the other hand, had 968 miles under my wheels. I was the wise old tourist who had seen everything. I had experience. I had seen it all. I was going to share my overwhelming wisdom about life on the road with these 'kids'!

    'Hey! How's it going?', I said confidently.

    'Pretty good.'

    'So, where are you guys from?', I said with a hint of superiority.

    'Oh, we're from Homer, Alaska. We're headed to Oklahoma to visit some relatives ', said the man.

    I didn't hear the rest of what he said because the sound of my ego deflating was too loud to let me hear anything. Alaska? Who rides their bike from Alaska to Missouri? And why did I have to meet up with them there? 968 miles was a drop in the bucket compared to their trip. I was a newbie. A rank amateur. My trip was nothing. Sure we talked about our respective trips and what we had seen since we traveled in the same area (although not the same route). We all thought Iowa was hell on earth and was glad we were past that part. But always in the back of my mind was this thought that 'they rode from Alaska!'

    But that's not the point is it. It's not about competition. It's about the journey. That's why we ride over hill and dale. That's why I rode 1024 miles without pie. That's why they rode from Homer, Alaska to visit relatives in Oklahoma. We ride for adventure. To see things and be amazed. To suffer and test ourselves. To find out what it's like to be away from everything we hold dear and to come home. We ride for all these reasons (and for pie) and much more.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  22. #22
    Over 40 Member rivertrail's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camel
    --Not intending to highjack the thread--

    Now that you know you are allergic to beestings, any difficulties taking epinephrine on flights in checked baggage (post 9/11)? I usually carry an epi-pen all the time (hiking, biking on campus-it's just allways in my bag), but have never flown with one. I'm not allergic (to my knowledge), but just include it in my basic medical kit.

    Thanks
    I haven't had any problems carrying an epi-pen in checked baggage. It's a prescription drug. Maybe carrying a copy of the prescription would be extra insurance. PM me if you have any other questions.
    '04 Calfee Tetra Pro, '04 Santa Cruz Blur, '05 Lemond Poprad, . . . Oh yeah, the grocery bike: mid 70's Schwinn Cruiser Deluxe with a deluxe iron oxide finish, Brooks saddle, front basket, and surf rack brackets.

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    In 1981 I rode from Oakland, CA to Glacier National Park. I followed CA 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) from San Francisco to Eureka, then turned inland and followed two lane roads through what was then a very empty part of California. The only way I could find to get from California to Oregon was on I-5, which I didn't want to do, so I asked around in a little logging town. Someone pointed me to a little dirt road that I followed over the mountains into Oregon. The road was really fun riding, the most adventurous part of the tour, and I had an absolute blast all day. Coming down into Oregon, I made a wrong turn on a dirt road, and decided to wave down the next car I saw and double check my directions. A beat up red Subaru stopped, the guy driving didn't say much, but the lady with him pointed me in the right direction. As I turned around and rode off in the right direction, I remember thinking that the guy looked like a marijuana grower who was smoking more of his crop than he was selling. A few miles later I was on a paved road again and headed for Ashland, OR, when the same red Subaru drove past honking it's horn. I figured the guy wanted to make sure I knoew how to get where I was going, so I stopped and he backed up until he was next to me. As he stopped next to me, he pulled out a big revolver, pointed it straight at me, and demanded to know what I had done with his wife's purse. While I was trying to convince him that I didn't know anything about his wife's purse, about three cars drove past, and each time he would order me to "act normal". He finally decided that he didn't want to search my bike, my panniers, etc., so he ordered me to ride back up into the valley I had come from, get his wife's purse, and bring it back to him. He told me that he would be waiting for me when I came back out of the valley, and that I was on the only road out of that valley. As he drove off I memorized his license number, then I waved down the next pickup truck to go by. I explained the situation to the driver, and asked him to transport me and my bike into Ashland. When I got to to the youth hostel in Ashland, I called the cops. The sheriff's deputy who came out showed a complete lack of interest in the story, and was so belligerent and hostile that I gave up trying to get anything done. I counted my blessings that I hadn't been shot, and continued the tour to Glacier National Park.

  24. #24
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    Here is one I posted quite some time ago when I met a bear on one of my tours.


    I was stealth camping in a provincial park in Ontario, it was early may and the park was not yet open but it would be opening the next day. It was arrowhead provincial park just outside of a town called Huntsville, and was raining and cold, so before hitting the park, I grabbed a couple of beers to go along with my whiskey to keep me occupied, and headed out to my free campsite. I knew that I would have the park to myself for the next few days, possibly longer. For it was forecast rain, cold and miserable for the next 2 days in this part of the province. Nobody was going to pay for a sight, let alone even remotest thought of paying to camp in rain and sleet.

    For dinner I made some pasta and sauce on my little stove, I also had a bit of meat which I threw in and it made a nice dinner. I cut it and mixed it with a knife I carried with me. It started to get dark so I looked for a tree to hang my pannier that contained all my food. Felling tired and lazy from the beer and food, I thought to myself, “what the hell, I will keep the food in my tent”. Luckily I came to my senses and decided to hang my food from a tree. I could not find a tree near by with low enough branches to get a rope over. I had to walk about 200 meters away before I found one that I could manage to get a rope over. I hung my food high in the tree, because that was the only choice with all the trees around there.

    I went back to my tent to look at my map by torchlight, and plan the next days route. While I was in my tent looking at the map, I hear some animal noises, but think nothing of. I say to myself. "I am in a forest and it's alive. Of course I will hear animals, that's is normal, it’s a forest in spring, just ignore it”. Well I go on looking at the map and I realise this animal is getting closer, and it sounds very big. So I am thinking that it is probably a deer, no big deal. Then I hear it snorting and exhaling really loudly through it's nose, blowing out anything that is in there so it can have a real good sniff. All this is happening a couple of feet away from me right outside my tent. Then the animal pushed it's face against my tent, which I could clearly see was a bears face indented on the inside of my tent. It made a giant inhale. I was thinking to my self. "So this is it this is how it happens." I was really scared, I did not move a muscle, because all the time I had my knife in ky pocket which I had made dinner with, cut meat with. I thought. "Ohh man if he smells that he will rip a big chunk out of me to get at the knife." He just kept wandering around my sight poking around looking for food. I was so scared, I became religious very quickly, I was the first and last time I remember praying, In my head of course. And I am positive it was the last. It was the only time I said. "I would rather be at work sitting at my desk." I would rather be anywhere else than at work, at all times! So the bear just kept roaming around my sight, poking around. It seemed liked forever.

    The 2 beers I drank earlier were going straight through me, and I had 2 full water bottle in my tent, I had to empty them before I could start filling them again. So I decided I had to dump the bottle so I could relieve myself. I started to unzip my tent one tooth at a time, being as careful as I could, trying not to make the least of noise. Which was very hard to do considering this is the most scared I have ever been. It seemed to take a forever, time was moving so painfully slow. Every time I would make the slightest noise the bear would stop listen, this would scare the daylights out of me. Finally I got the zipper open enough to poke the mouth of the water outside the tent; so slowly and carefully I poured the water out of the bottles just barely outside the tent. After I emptied them I easily filled the 2 bottles up again. I repeated this process a few times, and each time I would make a noise the bear would stop and listen. I was so scared for so long. I remember nothing after that, except that it rained all night.

    I woke up, it was just after first light it was raining very lightly and miserable out, everything was soaked except me. I got out of my tent, there was no sign of the bear anywhere. All of my camp gear was untouched and left in a neat pile under the picnic table, as it was before I went into my tent last night. So I walked the distance to get my food out the tree it was in. As I was getting my food pannier out of the tree I could see scratch marks on the tree. I guess he located the food, he just could not reach it. I never broke camp so quick, I just haphazardly attached all my gear and got the hell out of there.
    I have no idea how long the bear was poking around, it could have been a half hour or 5 hours, I had no clue, all I knew is that is was morning and I am going to get a nice motel room and get a lot of sleep.
    Catastrophe: Knowing you are about to die and there are still three beers left in the fridge!
    P.L.

  25. #25
    Corsair Satyr's Avatar
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    About bears.

    I was touring down the California coast last winter, from Arcata (a bit north of Eureka) to Los Angeles. This particular day I decided to ride a double day, covering twice as far as normal. Keep in mind this is winter, so the dark came fairly early.

    First it got dark, and I was a bit afraid of getting lost this was not good. Then the route veered into rolling pasture lands. I was born and raised in the city. For whatever reason, an irrational fear overcame me that I would be stopped by some yokel and harassed, or shot at. It did not help my fears when people in pick up trucks came barrelling down the skinny road. Surely, I thought, a drunk would do me in.

    Well I got through the farming communities fine, if not a bit mentally fatigued and definitely physically fatigued at this point. About 15km from my destination I felt an intense drag on my rear wheel. This concerned me, and mentally stressed me out even more because it significantly reduced my speed and I was unsure what the cause was (the next day a little spoke tightening cleared it up).

    Now the route turns into the woods, with steep declines. I go to where I think the destination lies, and find nothing. I backtrack a bit, and still do not find where I am supposed to be. I know the park, Samuel P. Taylor State Park, is nearby, but for the life of me cannot find it. At this point I am getting rather cold, concerned I will have to stealth camp, and just generally weary. A truck driver pulls over and tries to assit me but to not much avail. Finally, after about an hour of searching I find an entrance.

    I find the hike bike site, lean my bike against a picnic table, and go to the other picnic table and sleep atop it for warmth. (I did not bring a tent with me, nor a sleeping pad, and the ground sucks a lot of heat from you). Right as I am lying down it begins to rain. No big deal, I just pull my poncho tarp over me. I am so relieved to be lying down that nothing can concern me.

    Around 2 or 3 AM I awaken to a scratching nose coming from near my bicycle. Quite loud, it sounds like something is tugging at it, but I immediately can tell it is no human. Then I hear a loud huffing like noise. Instantly I froze. "Oh man, this is a bear."

    "Oh man! It is eating my food!"

    "Oh shyte, it is tearing my panniers! Why is this happening?"

    "Jesus, it could destroy my bike somehow."

    At this point the sounds is moving away from the bike and coming towards ME.

    "Oh no. My head is going to be mauled. I am going to die right now, this is how it happens!"

    I was too scared to move. (I am not sure what is so scarry about wilderness like this. Is it the seemingly arbitrary power? ). I have never been so afraid, actually.

    A few heart pounding minutes later I hear the cupboard near my feet being tugged at, like something is trying to get in. This goes on for about half an hour, whereupon the adrenaline began to fade. I grow sleeping again, and must have dozed off for about 15 minutes. I awake again and hear the sounds, but have some courage this time and shine my riding light toward my bike.

    I sear four sets of eyes near the ground.

    "Raccoons?!" I was so relieved, actually, that it was NOT a bear that I did not immediately shew them away. I tried to get back to sleep but they were making a ruckus now and I could not abide it so I chased them.

    The next moring I awoke to survey the damage. All my food save a jar of jelly had been eaten. I just had bought food too. They were trying to get at a stick of butter in a locked cupboard at the base of the picnic tables. But no damage to the bike or the panniers or anything else.

    I likely would have figured out it was no bear when I awoke and discovered no shredded panniers, but until I shined my light at the coons I was convinced it was a bear. The huffing noise was no huffing but actually the critters getting in my panniers.

    I told all this to the park rangers and they laughed, saying there were no bears there. Feeling perhaps charmed, they offered me an abundance of cookies someone sent them, which I gladly accepted.

    Bears...they are no joke. Really put your food in a tree in bear country. I was starkly reminded of bears last spring while camping in a meadow. The place was littered with bearprints. Since it was early in the season there was still a healthy layer of snow over everything, and consequently not another human for quite a distance. Had it not been for the snow prints, though, I likely would not have known bears were about.

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