The Tent Gets Tossed

by kfrego

Linda and I rented a small house in Smelterville, Idaho while mining at the Cedar Mt mine. We spent most of the week camped on the North Fork of Hayden Creek in a area of huge cedar trees. We would go home on the weekends to do our laundry, make phone calls, check the mail, and restock on groceries. We camped in a 10 foot by 12 foot wall tent. Our refrigerated meats and vegetables were kept in a submerged plastic bag in the creek near the tent. We used a coleman gas stove and lantern to cook and light in addition to our campfire. All garbage was contained and removed from the camp area daily.

We frequently saw bear, deer, elk, and every kind of forest rodent. The bear had never given us any problems around camp. The rodents were always around, but didn’t present any problem. We had a very large black bear sow with two small cubs in the general area. We would see her once in awhile when driving as she shooed the cubs away from the road. We settled in to a pretty normal routine at camp. The kids played hard all day and slept very well at night. In the mornings I would get up, get ready for work while the campfire got going, and make a pot of coffee while everybody slept. When leaving for the mine the coffee was left on the edge of the campfire grill so it would be hot when Linda and the kids got out of bed. Denny and I took the old Jeep Powerwagon back and forth to the mine. Our regular vehicles stayed in camp.

One morning, after I went to the mine early, Linda woke up frightened. Something was wrong, but she didn’t know what it was. As she became fully awake she could hear the muffled movements and breathing of a bear near the tent. The bear snooped around a little, even nosing the sides of the tent a couple times, and left. Denny was still in camp at his trailer across the road. Linda stayed in the tent and screamed for Denny to come help her. Apparently the bear wandered off when Denny came outside to work on his small generator. He never saw the bear. Denny stayed with Linda until she felt comfortable. She could use our station wagon for protection if needed. We never slept in the tent again. The station wagon was the only place Linda would sleep.

We located and bought a small school bus converted into a camper. The people built the bus for a trip into central Mexico and sold it when they returned. We had bunk beds for the kids, a gas refrigerator, and apartment size gas kitchen stove. The kitchen table and storage benches provided us with our bed. It was clean and bear proof. Linda and the kids made themselves very comfortable while in camp.

The bear didn’t mean any harm…….. it just looked around and stole all our meat and vegetables out of the creek.