ACCESS PROJECT VOL. 1 with Ben Horton

WAKING UP WITH BEARS

I‘ve been woken up by bears sniffing my head in Alaska, I‘ve encountered wolves in the arctic, mountain lions, crocodiles, sharks, and more. Needless to say, I‘m fairly comfortable with the idea that these animals have no real interest in people, and seeing them is part of the reason I love being in nature, though preferably from a safe distance.

That comfort level doesn‘t always extend to when it‘s time to go to sleep. My girlfriend and I were deep in the Olympic National Forest, and my mind had wandered back to that grizzly in Alaska that woke me up by sniffing my head. When the mind is in this state, every squirrel hopping sounds like a bear stepping, and when the wind rustles the trees it sounds like the approach of something very large.

SOMETHING IS OUT THERE…

It was raining, and that always makes it harder to tell if something is out there, the white noise can either drown out the animal noises, or your brain can find patterns in the way the water is dripping from the trees and you can end up believing that something is walking circles around your tent looking for the best way in.

I thought I heard something walk by, and chalked it up to the wind, and then I thought I heard my bear canister getting rolled around, but the burbling creek next to me made similar noises. Perhaps I should have walked it a little further away I thought. My girlfriend was sleeping softly, why couldn‘t I, was she braver than me? I was listening so intently that I felt my ears straining, and finally I figured nothing could be walking around us for that long, and nothing would waste that much energy trying to get in the bear canister, it had been at least an hour, I passed out.

THE NEXT MORNING

The next morning, I walked over to where the bear canister was, under a fallen tree about fifty feet away at the bottom of a small depression. It wasn‘t there. The area had been trampled, grass laid flat, and the canister was over a hill where it had been abandoned.

Sometimes at night, squirrels become bears, and bears become the wind. Still though, only 50 feet away, as we slept like burritos in a delivery bag, the bear had left us in peace.

Please enjoy this video from the Access Road Trip. The campaign was to educate and inspire everyone to get outside!

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FOOTNOTES: Photo and Story by: Ben Horton