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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Bear Story

Loreleigh came through! My original plan was to co-post this piece with her, adding my comments along the way, however, after reading it, I decided my comments would only detract from the story. This story is particularly timely as I am leaving for Wild West tomorrow. It takes place the day after Wild West, at the same location in 2008.

So without further's Loreleigh!

Hi, I’m Loreleigh. Melinda is my sister and she threatened to tell these stories in her own words if I failed to write in. Before I begin this episode of “how Loreleigh almost became bear food” I ought to introduce my horse and myself. I am NOT an endurance rider- one of my favorite horsy activities is to ride my Sally bareback to a nice patch of sun and stop. Enjoy the sun. Enjoy the feeling of sitting on the horse. I also draw little hearts around Sally’s name when I get the chance. Sally is a mustang, which I’m sure I don’t have to tell this audience is NOT a car but an excuse for a horse to be both lazy AND have a spiteful streak.

So, on May 25th 2008 Melinda came home from her endurance ride wet cranky and cold. Minx wasn’t going to be talking to her for a good while because Minx, apparently, hates the rain- “See,” Melinda said” I’m smiling here because I knew I was going to buy the pictures not because I was actually happy.” At my urging we returned to the scene of misery to go riding – it even started raining again as we pulled into the equestrian overlook with Sally, Farley and my boundless optimism, which I credit for sending the rain away. The trail was amazing and the scenery was gorgeous even when it managed to collide with my knees (this is Sally’s favorite trick and I could hear her snicker whenever she scored a point). The slopes where so muddy that to get up them I was letting my horse choose the pace which seemed to consist of leaping up the steps formed by the tree roots and for the first time the horn on my western saddle reached out and touched me. Right then and there I decided to become a convert to non-western tack, hear the angels sing, another lost soul has been saved.

We made it back to camp, untacked, propped our heels up, heated up some chili and watched my horse steam in the cold air as we rehashed the ride. The previous day at the endurance ride there had been some bear sightings and we had been scaring ourselves with “what is that over there!!!????” for the entire ride and the first thing we did when we got to camp was come up with a plan in case of a bear 1) get rid of trash 2) load horses 3) load camp table etc 4) drive away. This was, of course, if the bear wasn’t charging, if it was Melinda pointed out that she could run a good deal faster than I could so I got to be bear food. This was until we decided that the subject of bears was officially closed because it wasn’t going to happen and we were just obsessing. I was 2/3rds thorough my tack wish list (long and varied as is any good tack wish list should be) and I was trying to convince myself that the scary sounds were a cow or a bull frog despite every PBS save-the-endangered-bears show I’ve ever watched when Melinda said “there’s a bear.” Look-yep-a bear. I drained my post ride tea and what follows is a series of vivid scenes and curious blank spots. Melinda ordered me to grab the trash and get it away from camp as per plan. In my mind I argued about it being ME who ran like a prey animal and smelled like chili but it WAS the PLAN. “Farther! Farther!” yelled Melinda “Farther!” Finally I dumped it, ran back and realized I’d only gotten 10 feet from camp though I swear I’d run a half a mile. Horses next. Sally planted her feet (we were half hoping that the mustang would warn us if a bear came, she just looked mildly interested and wanted to finish her hay). I was; however, plenty scared by now and just pulled on the rope. I’m pretty sure I could have reeled her in willing or not at that point. It was then that I became aware that when I’m scared for my life my hands shake like leaves and it takes so long for me to say words through my stuttering that I might as well be mute. I also cannot perform simple tasks like tying up lead ropes or figuring out fasteners on horse trailer dividers. Melinda “It slides!” Me “I-i-i-i-i-it wo-o-o-n’t-t-t-t-t….!” Melinda, it seems, reacts the opposite: she laughs like a kid on a roller coaster and gives lots of orders none of which I cannot question. All in all, I think she is quite happy with this combination.

As Melinda made sure we were are ready to roll, I start pitching our camp in to the back or the truck (we had untacked our horses directly into the trailer and had run a very tidy camp for which we were very grateful). The first thing I threw in was the 5 gallon jug of water as my mind from some small sane corner remarked that yeah, that was the first thing the bears would be after on a rainy day but with all the adrenaline let me tell you, that jug FLEW into the bed of the truck. Melinda kept and eye on the bear while I was tossing – VERY helpful, Melinda. “It’s standing up!” Me (in head because my mouth is not working): “ It’s kinda small – oh no! What if it charges!!!???? I’m gunna die!!!!!” Melinda: “It’s a mother with cubs!” Me (still in head) “ Why can’t we leave Melinda’s camp stuff?!!!!?”

Everything was loaded. Melinda “ Go get the trash!” Now, I thought that this was patently unfair that I got to be bear bait twice but once again to question requires working vocal chords. I was secretly happy that I hadn’t managed to dump it very far from camp seeing as I HAD TO RUN BACK FOR IT (how’s that for sisterly love?). As we scrambled into the relative safety of the cab and make our painstakingly slow get away I started coming off the adrenaline – nothing like your first scared-for-your-life-because-that-bear-might-rip-you-to-pieces-and-eat-you to cheer you and make you laugh so hard you risk your life a second time to suffocation. Now you can all see why I can’t wait to go riding with Melinda again. It is a blast!


  1. Haha! Oh Mel thats to die for! I should show that to my sister and tell her how much I think she should come riding with me, although we don't have bears around here.

    Lots of luck this weekend!!! I can't wait to hear about it next week!!

  2. Hilarious!

    Remind me to tell you about the time my mare saw the wolves (they were real).


  3. I totally sympathize with Loreleigh! Bears terrify me; I think I'd just faint if I saw one in person. Note to self: never go trail riding with these crazy women!

  4. Great job lorlor...that was both amusing AND informational.
    ie: don't go camping with Mel


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