Have you ever stared into the pit-less eyes of a black bear?
Me neither, because I was too busy running to the other side of the bridge to get away from it. Actually, I was such a little bitch, that the video I have of this epic wildlife encounter is just the camera going everywhere like The Blair Witch Project, and a female park ranger speaking to the bear very calmly, saying, “You’re okay…”
In the video, the bear looks at me for .08 seconds like, “This thot… like I would even f*ck with her,” while eyeing down the giant South African man standing beside me like, “Hi, Daddy. ;)”
I wasn’t planning on encountering a bear, because isn’t that kind of something you want to avoid for obvious reasons?
Not on my bucket list: reenacting The Revenant.
Apparently, Americans have a reputation for being p*ssies when it comes to putting ourselves in danger’s way, which I was told after I met the bear. I thought about it, and it’s probably true, considering the day before, I refused an exit row seat on the plane because it was “too much responsibility.”
I know a lot about hair, makeup, and how to look pretty for pictures in Alaska, but I can’t say I know much about the great outdoors. Shit, it wasn’t until I started researching this trip, that I realized icebergs are made from glaciers. In my defense, though, why would I know that? I can tell you anything you want to know about Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, why Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays, where the nearest Walmart is (I think southerners are bred with like a sensor in our nose to detect this), and different variations of poisonous snakes, but icebergs?
You’re SOL if you wind up with me as your partner on Naked and Afraid. Day one, I’ll contract some form of malaria, and my partner will have to hunt, fish, and build a hut out of sticks, just to keep me alive.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel all around the world, but I can’t say that I ever really thought about going to Alaska. What would someone like me do there?
Take a lot of pictures.
And that’s exactly what I did. I came, I saw, and I essentially conquered… with my camera.
I left LAX in my traditional, “Is that girl someone from a Disney Channel movie that I saw once?” attire. Most people at the airport appear like they just crapped their sweatpants 20 minutes ago, so I’d say it’s not a difficult look to achieve.
The unfortunate part about all of this is that after traveling in airplane mode for seven hours, despite all efforts, you’re going to look like shit. I swear, there is something in that recycled air that makes your body Anamorph into what you looked like in middle school. I always come off the plane with like 19 pimples, a bigger nose, and puffier eyes.
If you don’t believe that the 19th century belief of miasma is real, I bet you will once you come off a plane ride that’s longer than two hours.
It’s not an ideal way to greet someone that you haven’t seen in a month.
Flying in, the mountains were enormous. Little green islands popped up across the waterways. I felt like I had been whisked away on an episode of an adventurous date on The Bachelorette, minus having 18 other boyfriends, which could be cool, but sounds totally exhausting.
I was finally there and I felt great, but still a little nervous about one thing: bears.
Before my trip, you best believe I watched close to 50 YouTube videos on bear attacks. Black bears: fight back. Grizzly Bears: accept your death and crawl into a ball.
I was keeping it cool on my first real day in Alaska, which began with a nice breakfast, followed by a day full of hiking around the glacier and waterfall. Although, I will say that I was disappointed to find out that Nugget Falls is sadly named after gold nuggets and not chicken nuggets.
During our walk back, my new bae caught wind that a bear was rustling around nearby from a park ranger. I thought I avoided this the first time we walked in this area, but unfortunately the bear was back for a bit more of fishing.
“This is a once in a lifetime experience! We have to go watch the bear!” he grabbed my hand and dragged me down the trail TOWARDS A BEAR.
We got to the little bridge that the bear was hanging out at and waited for quite a while.
“Nothing to see, here!” I was just about to say, when something began rustling in the bright green bushes to our left.
“Oh God,” I thought. I eyed down the people around me, deciding who I’d push over the bridge first, in case of the event that I needed to save myself.
I’m not above that. Yes, I’d have to live with the guilt of it, but at least I’d be living.
I definitely couldn’t throw over Riley, who invited me on the trip. That would just be flat out rude. Riley’s friend, Jacs, would be devastated if I knocked one of her parents into the river, who were also visiting, so Mainey and Boss Man were out of the question. The crew from the BBC would be too much publicity.
That left Binoculars, who stood above me like a tall balding pine tree. I hated his vest and I found his spectacles unnecessary, since the bears were right there. I could leverage his body and tip him straight over the short barrier of the bridge, which was the only thing that separated us from the bear. It’d be enough of a distraction for me to get out of there and run to the car like hell on wheels.
Now that I had a plan in place, one that I couldn’t divulge to anyone standing around me in fear of being committed to a mental institution, I felt a bit safer.
Being that I’m extremely morbid, I always have a plan for when an unpredictable disaster strikes. One of my most recent ones involves a midnight break-in at my house. In this scenario, a deranged criminal finds a way to get inside, while I’m home alone. Considering that I don’t have a gun anymore, my plan of action is to:
- Use the pair of scissors beside my window to tear out the screen quickly.
- Throw my expandable foam mattress out of the second story window.
- Climb out of the window, pray that the mattress has enough support in it, so my legs don’t break.
- Land safely and run into the nearest gated community.
Ask me about my movie theater plan.
Back to the bear. After a few minutes, I realized that the bear wasn’t very interested in us. She was just there to do some fishing. It wasn’t long before three cubs also emerged. At one point she sent all three up into a nearby tree, while she got to work. It was actually the cutest thing I think I’ve ever seen.
Well, after I stopped shitting my pants.
She did come by and sniff us, just kind of checking out the crowd, but didn’t seem scared or aggressive at all. It still spooked me, hence the Blair Witch footage. Thankfully, Riley was the closest in the line of fire, so I’d be spared, but certainly mourn over his death if an attack occurred.
I slyly hid behind the massive father of Riley’s friend, knowing that if anyone could fight a bear, it would be someone who actually went by “Boss Man.” He looked like he could knock someone’s head off with a thump of his index finger and thumb. It’s a wonder that his daughter ever got married, because I’ll tell you straight up what I’d do if I met my future in-laws for the first time and the dad’s name was Boss Man: start reconsidering if this love is worth my life.
After two or so hours of bear watching, I felt like I had personally made friends with this bear, Nikki. I knew all about her family, and how she got relocated after digging in the trash. It must be cool to be a bear and every one be completely in awe and petrified of you.
Doesn’t sound like a bad gig, honestly.
My overall takeaway from coming face-to-face with a bear is that it wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be, and that animals should really not be kept in zoos. I’ve met a Sun Bear, when I was in Bali and it made me pretty sad. The poor thing was kept on an island of cement with a moat around it. But, this bear was happy and enjoying life as she was supposed to. It was a great experience, so I’m glad that I got to go hang out with a bear for a day, even though I couldn’t say that a week ago. A week ago, I was watching videos titled, “Bear Attacks Caught on Camera.”
Does anyone know how I sign up to be interviewed for I Survived? Because I did. I survived watching a bear catch fish without having a heart attack and destroying my brand new jeans.