2:20 pm. We’re not even 20 minutes into my first backcountry bear hunt when a peculiar thought rolls into my mind: “it’s already been worth it.“
The backdrop is stunning; beautiful rolling Idaho foothills painted greener than the greenest of greens in Bob Ross' palette of colors. The weathers bluebird with white clouds of puff resembling animals and characters more than balls of air and water.
We’re headed into the mountains of Central Idaho for spring bear. My buddies, two of the best guys you’ll ever meet (the type they say “they don’t make ‘em like that anymore” about) have been sitting on this spot for a little more than a week. Bread, cookies, donuts, sugar, fish guts, and old chicken gizzards have the place smelling worse than your college dorm 3 weeks before the semester lets out.
We drive through all the small towns the local community knows so well to “No Mention Trail” as these guys graciously share stories of hunts they’ve experienced over the last 30 years: bears showing up at camp only to be scared off by a .44 and a flashlight, canvas-walled tents that feel more like home than the location plastered on their drivers license during most September evenings, and how the spot we're headed to was the very same locale where they sat with a mentor for their first bear hunt. Now they’re taking ME on it? Humbled.
Five minutes out of the truck when yours truly falls into the river. Soaked pants, shirt, and (not known until later) a soaked pair of spare boots. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
We sit waiting for a bruin to sneak in and make a beeline for our carb-laden goodies. To pass the time I do some writing, some thinking, some more writing, and finally, some longing for the foresight to have had downloaded a podcast or brought a book to pass the time.
Last light passes and we make the trek through back down the mount, through Soak City and back to the truck. It’s midnight by the time my sleepy eyes walk through the front door of our home. I pull the covers up to my chin (Mountain rivers chill you to the bone; you know...) and fall into a slumber even Goldilocks would be impressed with.
It's four short hours later when the incessant "beep, beep, beep" of my alarm rouses me from my hibernation. Sleepy-eyed and exhausted, I look up to the ceiling and think “that was so worth it".