Our recent down the Salt River in Arizona was a trip with lots of wild life. So much life in the desert. Maybe it was the full moon. Our second night out at Gleason Flat was filled with sniffling, snuffling, and a few grunts – courtesy of the local javelina coming around to check us out. After the third night, a whole herd of deer invaded our campsite at Lower Corral Canyon. Somewhat surprising after the incidents of the night before…
Early in the morning, while I was burrowed deep into my sleeping bag like a cocoon, something pushed on my thigh, waking me up. Wiggling out of my bag, I looked out the door of the tent into the full-moon light and there was a bear cub, right there, looking at me! Now I’m not sure what the appropriate response or thing to say is in this situation, but my response at the time was to yell “HEY!” Little cubby ran off and Lacey woke up. I told her what had just happened and she only half believed me. Might have something to do with my consumption of tequila before bedtime… At any rate, we didn’t think too much more about it and went back to sleep.
Once it was light and we were more fully awake, I showed her the dusty footprint on the tent door and on my sleeping bag, but she still didn’t really believe me until she saw the roll-a-table tipped over with three big footprints on it. Holy cow, mama bear had been doing a table dance!
I got up and showed her the footprints all around the tent, big ones and little ones.
She started wondering about the boat, parked upstream and out of sight so I went to investigate. What I found was a deflated tube on her cataraft and pieces of foam scattered around. Those two bears had climbed on her boat and ripped the seat apart! On further inspection, they had even worked on my seat. Those NRS tractor seats must be really tasty!
The deflated tube was caused by a bite on the cone and a rip from either a tooth or claw.
I went and broke the bad news to Lace and she came down to take a look. Unbelievable and complete dejection.
What next… Repair time. Some Tear-Aid tape should do the trick.
Our new friends from Washington came floating along and we recounted the story for them while they took lots of photos. Their reaction? “Best bear story ever!” We “borrowed” some heavy duty duct tape from them to reinforce the Tear-Aid patch and repair the seat and kept going down the river.
Quartzite Falls and Corkscrew were still fun at 700 cfs. After completing the trip, I contacted the USFS river ranger to let him know about these two bears. Hopefully they will not bother anyone else-the season is almost over anyway. I don’t think we will be staying at Lower Corral in the future…