Grand Teton National Park. And I had dragged her there.
We had already celebrated the beauty of lake, craggy Teton views and a pornographic explosion of wildflowers. We spotted crusty discs of bear poop and sweated from our ascent to a panoramic viewpoint. Coming down, tall shrubbery walled the trail which we found blocked by a steaming pile.
We had arrived even before the flies, which told trouble. Then we saw the big clawed paw print. Steps beyond the odor sharpened. Now I know. Grizzles smell like a landfill in a heatwave.
Besides the bear spray, my only recourse was to launch into a pathetic chorus of Yellow Submarine (so strong is the survival instinct). Reader, you have never heard such an unsteady, wobbling and adrenaline-laced version of that tune, clapping, we beat it to tatters until we found the car. Later, my ranger friend surmised that the pile-maker had likely been a grizzly--the black bears in this sector had long fled from their invasion.
In telling the news, Claire would call it our bear encounter. I insisted that it wasn't an encounter without a sighting. And statistically, these encounters were not always grim. What we had was probably worse--those wretched smells and rustlings put to our own imaginations.