Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bear? What Bear?

For those of you who may not know, my husband and I are avid mushroom hunters.  We enjoy slaying them every chance we get.  Last week, the hubby was informed by someone supposedly "in the know" that there were chanterelles  growing in such abundance up by the Erma Bell Lakes that we would need a ton of bags to carry them all.

So we packed up the rig, and set off for the Erma Bells.  The hubby drove.  I wanted to stab myself in the eye just out of sheer boredom.  The main part of the drive is about 40 miles on a scenic byway.  For some reason because there is no speed limit sign, he seemed to think that he needed to go 30 mph on this paved, two lane road.  For 40 miles.  We finally made it to the turn-off and went 10 mph for 4 miles on a very nicely graveled road.  Oh how I wished I was driving.  I remember driving up and down McGowen Rd (miles and miles of twisty gravel, sometimes paved, logging roads) in my younger days, probably going too fast for the comfort of others, but I was just fine at those speeds.  Anyway.

At the end of the gravel road is a campground and trail head.  It is 2 miles to the Lower Erma Bell, 2.5 to the Middle and another mile or so to the Upper.  Not a bad hike all in all.  Except for one thing.  I noticed a sign at the trail head warning of a mama bear and her two cub seen in the area.  Lovely.  And all I had was my 3 inch bladed, mushroom slaying knife with the paintbrush taped to the end (for on the go cleaning) for protection. Oh and the hubby, of course.  He had his pocket knife out, which he kept flipping open and closed for the entire hike.  I'm not sure who he was trying to impress; me or the bears.  I kept envisioning him and the bears in this weird dance in the style of West Side Story, circling each other in a patch of chanterelles.  

Don't get me wrong though.  I was not unafraid of the possibilities of bears wanting to eat me.  I was fully prepared to pee my pants upon introduction to the pissed off mama protecting her young, and then high tail it outta there. I just didn't see the need of the constant click of my husbands puny knife.  Yes, we made other noises to alert the animals of our presence, but after the first mile of "flip-click-smack-flip-click-smack" I was ready to stab him myself.

Since you are reading this, we are, obviously still alive.   We saw no bears, chanterelles either.  Although I will admit that it was awfully hard to watch where I was walking, look for 'shrooms and look out for bears at the same time.  Better luck next week when we go to our usual spots.