Hiking Havoc A cool wetness permeated the air as I stalked slowly between the century old trees, their trunks covered in moss. I peered through the low hanging fog, searching for the trail in front of me. My pack was chafing against my shoulder blades, and my toes were starting to grow numb from the creeping damp and cold. Sunlight was fading, although I couldn't see its source through the dense canopy of leaves that pressed in above my head. Deciding to stop for the night, I began to gather dead, dry moss from the underside of low hanging branches, intending to use it as tinder for that night's fire. When I felt like I had enough, I formed a small tepee out of sticks and lit the moss under it with waterproof matches from my pack. Once that started, I carefully added larger and larger stick, until eventually I had a nice fire crackling merrily, and the smell of smoke filled my nostrils.
I then began to rummage through my pack, looking for the salisbury steak self-heating meal I had packed. I tore open the box and added water to the little chemical package, and soon the smell of steak and potatoes mingled in with the smoke from the fire. The meal didn't taste quite as good as it smelled, although I think that was partly because the texture of the meat was horrible. As I finished my mediocre meal, the pale green light that filtered through the leaves dissipated to nothing, leaving me to ready my sleeping bag by the light of the fire. I found a relatively dry patch of ground next to the fire and laid out my things, then zipped myself in for the night. In the middle of the night I awoke with a start to the sound of a twig breaking. The fire had burned down, and it was so dark I couldn't even see my hand if I held it an inch in front of my face. As I opened my eyes, I heard a snuffling noise from across the fire, and my body froze in mid breath. The sniffing stopped with an abrupt grunt, and I cringed as a log in the fire that was about as thick as my leg cracked in half, as hundreds of pounds bore down on it in the form of a giant paw. I felt the bear nudge my sleeping bag with its nose, then pick it up between its teeth as if I were a toy. He raised me off the ground and carried me away from the fire, dropping me about twenty yards away. The bear then thoroughly sniffed me over, starting at my feet and working its way towards my head. His breath reeked of old decaying flesh, and I could almost imagine the dried blood caked on his muzzle. I thought I was going to projectile vomit all over the bear's face. He suddenly took my head in between his jaws and lolled me around in his mouth. ÃÂPlease don't eat me, please... please don't eat me,ÃÂ I chanted inside my head, and I felt a wetness creep down the side of my leg and into my boot. Then, as suddenly as he took me up, he spit my head out and started to pace back and forth and circle my prone and seemingly unconscious form. The bear, soon becoming bored with the lifelessness of his prey, moved back to the fire, tossed my pack against a tree, and stealing the rest of my rations, he stole off into the dark and foreboding forest. Relief spread throughout my body, and my head began to swirl, and I fell into unconsciousness, not waking again until the cool light of the sun was high in the heavily overcast sky.