by Alicia Jenkins
It was a clear, sunny Sabbath afternoon when Dad and I loaded into our forest-green Chevy truck. We were leaving Bozeman and headed to the beautiful Swan Valley, both of which are located in Montana. I slept most of the trip, so when we turned onto the old dirt road that leads to our cabin, I was excited and ready.
When we reached the cabin, we had to unlock the old door and the window shutters, start a fire, and get water from the creek, which is not far from our cabin. Just as we were finishing those quick chores, Grandpa pulled in. We greeted each other with hugs and hellos.
As we helped unload everything and take it into the cabin, we discussed what we were going to do over the weekend. The rest of the evening we talked and ate dinner. That night it rained all night. We went to sleep listening to the raindrops pounding down on the tin roof.
When I woke up Sunday morning, it was still raining pretty hard. Dad and Grandpa were already awake and downstairs by the time I got up, so, after getting dressed, I went downstairs to join them. Dad and I decided not to go on our planned walk that morning, but go the next morning, so Grandpa took us to the Swan Valley Café for breakfast.
It rained most of the day, so we stayed indoors most of that day. Activities inside the cabin are quite fun, but limited. There is no electricity, but we do have a battery-operated radio that picks up stations with lots of static. We also have several games and drawing paper. We had a fun rainy Sunday listening to football games, playing cribbage, and talking to each other. That night we ate and talked about what Monday might bring. Dad and I were going to hike up behind the neighboring cabin to look for elk and deer. By Sunday night the rain had stopped, so it was a quiet and peaceful night.
Dad woke me up the next morning before the sun was up. After I made a run to the outhouse, Dad and I headed out into the dark morning with our headlamps on. We were up high on the mountain by the time it got light. We hiked up an old logging road, around a corner, then went up to a clear cut, but didn’t see anything. We went back to a new part of the logging road and walked on it into another clear cut, but didn’t see anything there either. We went back to another part of the logging road and walked it into another clear cut where we had seen elk the year before. Still we saw nothing.
Dad decided he would take me and show me a place where he had seen lots of deer before. It was a small clearing with a creek through the middle, high on the mountainside. To get there, we walked up a fire line that goes straight up the mountain. As we got higher, we ran into a doe and a fawn. When we reached the top we hit the clearing, which is about 60 yards across. We stopped to catch our breath. Just as we stopped two ravens flew up from a small tree. We watched them fly and just stood quietly.
As we were standing there something caught my eye. I looked and, to my surprise and horror, a huge grizzly bear was walking toward us. “Dad! There’s a grizzly right there,” is all that I could say. Dad looked and watched for a few seconds, then told me to slowly back up a few steps. As we backed up, the grizzly bear stopped. “Turn around and run,” Dad said quietly. Boy, did I run! I ran as fast as I possibly could, all the while praying to make it through. When I stopped it was only to see if Dad was okay. When I saw him coming, I started running again.
We finally got to the clear cut where we could slow to a walk. We walked quickly back, several times glancing over our shoulders. The rest of the walk back to the cabin was a daze.
When we got back and Dad was telling the story, what had actually happened really sank in. Dad said it was the biggest bear he had ever seen, and he’s seen several! After I had turned to run, the bear took two fake charges at Dad and then turned into the trees. That is when Dad had come running. Dad said looking into the bear’s eyes told him that the bear had bad intentions. I prayed a silent prayer of thanks.
Later that day we said goodbye to Grandpa and went on our separate ways back home, taking with us memories that we’ll never forget. Once we got home that Monday night, we told Mom and my two sisters the story.
Every time I think about that story, I think of one of my favorite Bible verses, “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand and say to you: Do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 43:13. I remember this verse and am truly thankful that I have a God bigger than a grizzly.