It was one of those late-night awakenings when your heart is in your throat and you either snap into a defensive state or you fight with everything you got. There was no place for me to go. The only barrier between me and whatever was on the other side of the tent – a ground stomping, vocalizing black bear – was a couple millimeters of nylon. Luckily for me, though, I had a whistle, bear spray, and a knife; in case the bear and I failed to come to an agreement tonight.
“Go away bear. Go. Get out of here,” I yelled, then shot up out of my sleeping bag, grabbed my whistle, and blew as hard as my eardrums could take; a deafening silence now washed over me. After anxiously waiting for my world to stop ringing, I began to hear the cracking of twigs and the rustling of leaves in the distance, then another round of huffing and thumping of the ground began, but soon stopped; a precarious silence now hung in the balance.
In a flurry of urgency, I played my fingers across the tent floor in desperate search of my headlamp; fumbling with it around my head. With surgical delicacy I began unzipping the door tooth-by-tooth — click, click, click. Peering out from the small unzipped hole, I lifted the bottom of the rain flap with my index finger to see if this bear was lying in wait. Nothing.
After a short pause, I squeezed my head through the small opening and shone my light around, expecting two eyes to shine back at me, but nothing, again. Slowly, I tucked myself inside the tent and nervously lay on my side; waiting for the morning light to appear.