Have you ever spent a night alone, alone in the woods? All I could think of was that damned grizzly bear movie. I knew I never should have watched it.
You remember that 2005 movie “Grizzly Man,” about that wacko Tim Treadwell, who started hanging with the Alaska grizzly bears each summer and kept it up for 13 summers. He got so cocky that he invited his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, to meet his new friends. If memory serves, he stayed too long at the fair in 2003 and his furry pals left to be replaced by some huge rogue bears that did not appreciate or honor Treadwell’s presence.
Thank God there was no video, but his camera audio was left on in the tent while the testy newcomer noisily ingested the screaming Treadwell and Huguenard.
Hard to forget.
Because of botched arrangements (nothing new) I ended up staying at campsite 96 at Cobscook State Park all by myself. Jefferson Phil and Waldo Walt had spent the previous two nights at the campsite with the ocean view, but had other places to go.
I bid them farewell, then sat down in my folding chair, reading Roger Angell, the poet laureate of the sport of baseball.
Just to set the evening off, a few minutes after they left a park ranger pedaled by to say that rain, sleet and very high winds were on the way. No tornadoes, though. If the wind got real bad, she advised me to take shelter in the showers, the only real structure on the campground.
Within minutes, a torrential downpour started and I fled to the tent with Angell, my lantern and my trusty knife. You can’t go anywhere in the woods without a knife, I believe. Actually, I have slept with a knife in my bed since I was 10 years old. A knife is guaranteed to drive away the demons and goblins. I wasn’t so sure about a grizzly. I was a stone city kid, alone in the wilderness. Well, it wasn’t Alaska, but it was still the woods.
My alleged friend Jefferson Phil reminded me before he left, “You will be the only one on this point of land, and there are plenty of bears in these woods.”
Nice guy, huh?
With the lantern working perfectly, I traced the careers of Willy Mays, Hank Aaron and other greats through the graceful prose of Angell. I particularly appreciated his coverage of spring training, one of my favorite activities.
Normally, I have trouble sleeping in the woods both because of the closeness of the tent and the damned noises of the woods. I decided to open my knife, just in case the grizzly came by. I knew there were no grizzlies in Maine but as the night wore on, I developed some doubts.
Alone, in the woods.
Every time I got tired from reading baseball stories, I turned out the lantern and tried to sleep. Every time I tried to sleep, I remembered that damned movie. Every time I tried to sleep, I remembered Phil’s last words.
Nice guy, huh?
I recalled the time I locked Leo out of the car in Kokadjo when a black bear was in the parking lot. God was getting even.
My truck was nearby and I could have fled the bears (and the torrential rain) there. But I knew that was what Jefferson Phil would have expected. I tossed. I turned. And turned that lantern off five or six times. But I stayed in the tent with my trusty knife. Actually, the rain was so heavy that the usual woods sounds, including the grizzly reunion, were drowned out.
Eventually, as it always does, the dawn arrived. Everything was so wet I decided to leave. If I took the kayak out into the bay, that would leave all the camp equipment unguarded at the site.
I rolled out of the tent, thankful for the light, made breakfast in my brand spanking new Coleman stove and broke camp. I took down the wet, muddy tent and packed it in the back of the truck.
Apparently, the sun comes up quite early around Lubec. When I started the truck, I checked the time. It was 6:45 a.m.
That was the earliest I ever ate and broke camp. Apparently, I was still thinking about “Grizzly Man.” But I made it through the night like a real woodsman.
I am the new Daniel Boone.