I grew up in Los Angeles, sprawled cement city, without a tree in site. The treehouse deep in the woods I dreamt to live in at an age when Santa Clause still existed, came with hot dinners and ice cream at night, a warm bed, where the big bad wolf only existed in nightmares and bears called themselves Smokey and Yogi. But the actuality of facing the biggest fears still awaits. It is not the daily milage or lack of clean undies and socks that is to all a bit daunting. You see, it was about 23 years ago my 5 year old self was camping with the toughest outdoorsy man alive, my father. Shrinking to the size of a worm deep in my sleeping bag, a bear rummaged through our precious food canister. "Get the ax," my mother gasps. What lay between my pajamas and death were only the fluffy down sleeping bag feathers and a thin sheet of royal blue nylon tent. I survived that night, but lay ridden with post traumatic bear syndrome 23 years later.
Once again walking through bears' front yards in a mere 48 hours is a reminder that no solid adventure, no matter how terrifying or brutal or beautiful, can be passed up.
- Kristen Gentilucci