by Mark Mochon

Okay, I was 5 days into a nine-day camping trip at the start of summer.  My lovely wife, Myra, was gone for 2 weeks on a work-related trip so I had decided to go camping in southern Oregon/northern California with our 12 pound dog, Bailey.
Call me cheap if you want but I donít like to camp in traditional campgrounds with neighbors right next to my tent. I prefer isolated areas and look for side roads off of side roads that lead to water (a river, lake or the ocean).
This particular morning I was camped on the side of the North Fork of the Trinity River, 10 miles from Willow Creek (pop. 1,035) which is about 1/Ĺay between Eureka and Redding in far north California.  Very remote.  Very isolated.  Very beautiful. I saw two cars in 36 hours.
I got up, like I did every morning, made some coffee, puttered around a bit then put Bailey in her crate and went off for a run.  A mile into this run I decided to take an even more isolated route up a barricaded, overgrown old logging road which probably no one had set foot on in at least 5 years.  I hoped to find an old shack at the end of the road and maybe even see some wildlife.
Well, I chugged up this old brush-covered road a ways and almost turned around a couple of times because it was doing nothing but go up.  I held out hope for something interesting to look at.
It was about a mile up that I heard a rustling in the bushes right next to me. I had seen quite a few deer and elk on this trip and expected that was what was making the commotion so I slowed to a stop to check it out.  Imagine my shock when a black bear weighing at least twice as much as me rushed out of the bushes straight for me and slashed at me with itís left paw. I didnít notice it at the time but it actually caught me with 2 fingernails (make that claws) on my right thigh just at the hem of my running shorts.
So, here I am. Middle of absolutely nowhere.  Dressed in only running shorts and shoes. No one has a clue where I am and Iím attacked by a 300+ pound bear. You may ask, ďWhat did you do?Ē  Well, I punched that bastard right in the nose.  Actually it was more of a sissy-ass backhanded, full fisted whack to the snout as I was stumbling backward. Pretty darn good whack it was, too.  I couldnít have posed that bear for a full 5 seconds and have him hold still for me and get him as good as I did. I mean I clocked him good! I let loose with my best shot putterís roar as I did it.
Well, at this point he backed off. I backed off.  We both kind of looked at each other. I raised up on my tiptoes and let out another roar.  At this point I can only assume we called it a draw because I backed away and he backed away.  I went back the way I had come from and continued on with my run (nearly jumping out of my skin at every little lizard or mouse that rustled a leaf near me as I ran).