Saturday, June 26, 2010

Worst Camping Trip Ever...

This friday night JR and I headed out to Pike's National Forest for a little backcountry camping and a possible Pike's Peak Summit attempt (not that this is a hard one to summit - but we decided to make a weekend of it and head up the Barr Trail over the course of three days).

The first night we found a lovely little spot a few miles up the trail and set up camp. All was going well until I woke up with a nightmare that wild boars were attacking me. Freaked out, I was wide awake at 2:30 in the morning. I heard the clash and clatter of the pots and pans we had hung (it's always a wise idea to hang all your food, and anything relating to cooking far away from camp.)

(camp, halfway up Pike's Peak)

I headed over to JR's tent (I prefer to hammock, he prefers the ground so we sleep in separate places when we camp) to try to calm down.

About a half an hour later, we hear something come into camp and sniffle around for a bit. I look up and we see a rather large animal rooting around JR's pack, and then we hear it drag it off.

"What is that!?" I whisper to him. He tells me it's a wild boar. In my stupor I believe him. We hear him clawing at and tearing apart JR's pack.

(crunched tin can.)

"He took my pack! I'm going to go get it!" He whispers.

"No way!" I say.

The animal then returns for my pack - I hear it drag it off into the ravine, and then hear it chewing at the buckles and pawing at it. We decide it'll probably come for the tent next so we put on our boots and scoot out to the trail. By this time it was about 4:30 in the morning, and we decide to just sit down until it gets light out.

(my pawed through pack)

The first of the hikers start moving up the Barr trail and we talk to a guy named Lynn. I animatedly start telling him about the wild boar and he goes "I didn't know there were wild boars in this part of the country!"

Jon then discloses that it was a bear, not a boar, and he didn't want to tell me to freak me out any worse. Lynn wants to come check out camp and see what the bear has done, and maybe help us find our stuff, so we head back up the trail. We hike for about a half an hour back up pikes peak and turn off our headlamps for the beautiful sunrise.

(Half eaten deodorant)

We take a look at camp and realize the bear has been everywhere - the food is gone, down from the tree, and he has been rooting around in our clothing stuff sacks (that we used as pillows!) in the tent. The bear had, however, no interest in my hammock and left it alone.

We wander down the gulch a ways and the first pack we find is mine - it held up beautifully, though some of the buckles are chewed (but still usable) and there are a few puncture marks on the material. I had a grand total of my wallet, my checkbook, three empty stuff sacks, and my deodorant in my nearly empty bag - everything was intact except my deodorant, which was half eaten. That bear is going to have a tummy ache tomorrow!

(It even wanted to get at my socks! It did a pretty thorough job of opening EVERYTHING)

Another fifty meters down the gulch (following a trail of camping supplies, and random bear pilfered items) we find JR's pack - it didn't fare as well, it had several large gashes in the material that are going to have to be patched up.

Anyways, further inspection shows that the bear shimmied out to the limb, chewed through the rope to drop the food, and munched everything. Then, assuming it would find more (or really craving some deodorant!) it pilfered through our packs, and then into our tent.

(JR finding his pack)

Talking further with Lynn, who keeps his ear to pulse of what goes on in the mountain told us about a bear that crashed Barr Camp (the halfway up, pay for the night, camp) attempted to get into some tents, and would not leave. Perhaps this bold black bear is the same one? I wouldn't be surprised.

In retrospect, there are things I will be doing differently (like hanging my pack, hanging things even further away from camp, perhaps investing in a bear box or bringing a gun :) next time I go camping because this was pretty scary, and while it's kind of funny now, it wasn't at the time. After all, the bear DID steal my wallet!

With no food, and half our water gone (the bear punctured the bottles/bladders that we were using to cary it) we decided to call it a trip and head back home for some safe, bear-less sleep.

(Sunrise on Pike's Peak)


  1. Wow, adventures! Yikes! (Makes for a good story tho ;)

    Glad you are ok xx

  2. Wow that sucks! sorry it ruined your camping trip, but I am now very grateful I didn't go! haha!

  3. you are very brave. I have heard bears stay away if you leave the radio on. is there any truth in this? Save the bullets for the serial killers though as bears have a right to live and dont mean any harm. There is after all not much wilderness left for them.
    I like your site very much.
    Greetings from Annika :