My Entry About Being Killed By A Bear

Plaster casts of bear prints from near the vending machines at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor's Center.

Plaster casts of bear prints from near the vending machines at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor's Center.

A few months back I was shopping for the upcoming trip to the Pacific Northwest. I stood in the camping store's dressing room, checking the fit of a merino shirt and the realisation suddenly hit me: This was the shirt I would be wearing when I was killed by a bear.

It wasn't the first premonition like this that I'd had. My new hiking boots were also the ones I'd be wearing when I was killed by a bear. My new hiking pants would be the ones I would soil when the bear's claws ended my life. Funnily, the previous marino shirt I had been wearing in the change room was also the shirt I would be wearing when I was killed by a bear. (Seriously, merino shirts are amazing for hiking.)

It may seem a little ironic to worry about bear attacks when I come from Australia and go into the ocean regularly. There shark attacks happen regularly. In Washington State you can count the number of bear attacks in the past fifty years on two hands (assuming you haven't survived a shark attack in Australia).

Why is it our nature to assume the worst? Does it help us prepare for the unlikely? I did learn the rhyming mnemonic for how to react to a bear's aggression. And I whistled occasionally as we walked, letting my boots crunch and thud a little louder than they needed to.
Or, are these kinds of fears a reflection of our ingrained narcissism? Why would a bear want to kill me? How would surviving a bear attack affect my character arc? Would hiking in the Washington wilderness have been less fun if there hadn't been at the edge of my perception the constant threat of bear attack?

When my nineteen days out of the city over, and presuming nothing would go horribly wrong in the Portland Zoo, or the San Francisco international departures terminal, I was a little disappointed to not even have seen a bear. On the plus side I hadn't been gored and eaten, but on the minus, there was no good journal entry in that.

Too busy napping to even try and kill me.

Too busy napping to even try and kill me.

I wasn't killed by a bear, although I did get stung by a wasp when closing a hot tub cover. My instincts had proven to be wildly inaccurate. I'd lived on the edge and enjoyed it; death gives me no hints to its schedule.

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