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‘Battle’ with Boris the bear

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POSTED June 9, 2010 3:07 a.m.
­ I’ve always known bears are more afraid of us than we are of them.

It’s an awesome example of complete absurdity that works in our favor, but until Saturday I had no tangible evidence of this other than I had never been ambushed.

I was three campsites, two guest beds, four lost fish, one caught fish, three states, two countries, a 5 a.m. walk in 36-degree weather and who knows how many cups of coffee and liters of fuel in to my trip home — right on schedule.

Seeking the feel of Smithers, British Columbia, I managed to find a place where you could order steelhead flies to go with your burger and fries.

Seriously, there was a case near the bar with 14 different patterns meant to trick the popular fish on the world-famous Skeena and Bulkley Rivers.

When prompted, the waitress started in on a 4,209 word, two-breathed what-to-do oration including info on a Black Sabbath cover band led by a blonde chick in a nun outfit that was performing Saturday night, and where the high end furniture could be found.

She was sweet, genuine, and thorough to a degree I had not previously experienced.

I left and entered one of the five sporting good stores on the same street. A dude named James gave me a map and short synopsis of the bike trails that snaked through the slopes behind town.

I had my plan for Saturday, so I set up camp, walked back in to town and returned to the steelhead and fries place have dinner, and saw James.

Apparently, he worked four days a week at the sporting goods store, and was dating the waitress I had earlier.

We talked fishing politics, oil, forestry, and education.

“They’r foyn-lee realizin’ they need vo-cay-shunul core-sez for keds, and core-sez that keep ‘em en school.”

“We’d like to, but we don’t have the money, so...”

“How ‘boat them trails tomorra, eh?”

“I’m excited.”

I polished off dinner, returned to camp and slept well.

The mountain trails were about five kilometers up an easy trail from my tent by the river, so I was good and warm before I encountered a gap in the system that was a set of railroad tracks with no overpass, underpass, or pathway to the trail head.

Even though I didn’t grow up near train tracks, I seemed to understand playing on them was frowned upon.

It wasn’t until I saw a guy carry his bike over that I felt I wouldn’t be detained in some underground Royal Canadian Mounted Police holding center for crossing them.

I found the trailhead and a bus that looked like something that used to be owned by Fairbanks Transit. I crossed a little stream and pedaled hard out of the turn when the trail became obstructed by a SmartCar-sized black ball.

I squeezed both breaks and uttered an “Ohooo...”

Not the ‘Oh” that is used to set up a vulgar reference to fecal matter, but more the one my students would use when watching a dude on a bike get mauled by a bear on You Tube.

Boris ran off.

I waited a few moments and I cautiously moved up the trail a bit more, checking out the torn up ground he covered as he sped off. Between the paw prints there was another distinct trail — a trail of urine.

I had made Boris the bear pee himself.

I felt as though I had beaten KGB, landed the Iron Lotus, and defeated Dark Helmet without the Schwartz.

Not wanting to press this luck, I retraced the trail and found another one that led up a steep collection of loose rock that made my hamstrings and calves feel like guitar strings half a turn from snapping.

The view was great, but my legs were wasted.

I had just enough stability to get down the steep uneven grade, through the muddy cutes then go over the handlebars on the last little creek crossing before the road. If I knew what exactly happened, I would have taken preventative measures.

What I know is this, my back tire hit me in the head, my front reflector broke off, my right knee still hurts, left thigh remains tenderized and I ended up with my leg over the handle bars.

Both the bike and I were now facing the wrong direction down there in the mud.

If Boris saw and laughed, it’s okay. At least I didn’t pee myself.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail
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