Two Bears

And the Humans They Encounter

By Karlene Bayok Edwards

Back in 1961, as we drove home to McCall after a week of camping, a large black bear walked out into the middle of the dirt road in front of us.

The bear didn’t react to the engine noise of Dad’s dark blue 1955 pickup, in which five of us crowded into the front seat: Dad driving, Mother beside him holding my younger brother Ron, and my older sister Barb and I scrunched together next to the window. Although we lived in bear country next to what is now the Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness and spent much of our free time in the mountains, we rarely spotted a bear, so this encounter was something we would all remember.

Dad stopped the pickup and we watched the bear amble down the middle of the road, his shaggy hindquarters swaying from side to side. After a few minutes, Dad restarted the engine and we moseyed on down the road behind the bear. The road was so narrow that had we wanted to pass the bear, there wouldn’t have been enough room on either side of him for us to drive around. Dad drove a bit closer, but the bear ignored us.

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