Stein Valley Camping Journal
Last updated: Saturday, March 18, 2006.

The following is the true story of a camping trip that my friend Nic and I did in 1995. We kept a journal, and each entry was made at the time listed. The irony of this story is how our joking around became a horrible reality...

Copyright (c) 1995 by Brett Allen & Nic Thorne.

July 21, 1995

5:00am	- got up
6:16am	- took bus to Granville Station
6:46am	- took Skytrain to Bus Depot
7:40am	- boarded Greyhound bus to Lytton
We noticed a sign at the Greyhound station saying that Greyhound pays you $100 for lost luggage "unless higher value declared." I started speculating that you could scam them pretty easily ("Oh yes, I paid a pretty penny for this block of dry ice..."), but Nic pointed out that they may have already thought of this and installed refrigerated compartments. But oh, imagine the tragedy if a puppy were inadvertently thrown into the wrong compartment! "Here's your dry ice sir, and oh! Your dog, ma'am..." With this thought of poodle-pops we boarded the bus. - BA

7:45am	- bus finally leaves
10:00am	- coffee stop in Hope, BC
For future reference, never go to the coffee shop nearest the bus depot. They only had pitiful, scrawny, overpriced donuts. Across the street there was a bakery selling huge lucious ones at about the same price (way more of way better for way less-- how can you argue?). - BA

~11:30am  - arrived in Lytton, got lunch, got a ride to ferry
12:00pm   - got to west side of Fraser river
12:34pm   - got a ride to trailhead road
12:45pm   - at trailhead
3:05pm    - set up camp (1st marked site after Devil's Staircase)
Well, at some point today during our arduous hike, my body rebelled against the punishment it was being given. "Forget environmentalist ideals," it said, "let's start a `Pave the Stein' movement. Let's change the `Devil's Staircase' switchbacks in the `Devil's Escalator.'" But then we came to a breathtaking view and I thought, "No, we must consider the future." After all, someday they may invent floating packs that you can just buckle onto your belt and they bob along behind you. That would make hiking worthwhile again. - BA

July 22

7:15am	- got up, breakfast of fried potatoes
9:41am	- once more into the breach!
10:55am	- stopped for a PowerBar at Earl's cabin
I woke up with a bit of a start-- there was a beast in the tent! [ed. note: the author is making an inaccurate reference to Brett] We were both exhausted at the end of the day yesterday - went to bed at 6pm and woke up just after seven this morning. Brett was whining as we walked: "We could be lying under that pear tree with our mouths open, waiting for the fruit to drop!" I have the heavier pack by far today, which has kept him quiet. - NT

Oh, the torture! Nic has turned out to be a brutal taskmaster, flogging me at every turn. "Faster! Up that hill! We'll be at the lake by sundown!" Today I have been trudging dutifully behind him, like any good peon should, so that's kept him quiet for the most part. - BA

12:20pm	- stopped for lunch
We're starting to think that we've brought too much food. Nic blames it on his "other trips," which I have heard all too much about. Apparently *they* always take big blocks of cheese, two feet long, huge boxes of bread, apples a foot in diameter, six or seven head of cattle--*per* camper, and enough eggs to make omelettes the size of helipads. Oh, and you should hear about his plan for when we meet a bear...

- BA

I believe I am justified in accusing Sir Allen of Fairview of exaggerating -- I never said anything about cattle or eggs. We are indeed loaded down with food, however. The suggestion has been made that we make a cache which we'll pick up on the way back, but we're low on plastic bags. I suggested that we could pour in half the honey, half the peanut butter, half the cheese, etc., but this idea was for some reason rejected.

We have yet to meet a bear, which is disappointing. When we meet one I plan to run ahead, wrestle it to the ground, steal its pelt, and take off before it gets angry.

- NT

Sure Nic, we'll just stick the honey jar over its nose, first... "Mmmmmmm... honey. Hey! Hey! How'd it get so cold all of the sudden?! Hey you! Where do you think you're going?"...

- BA

~4:00pm	- arrive at Ponderosa shelter after an 
exhausting day. Thank god!
~4:30pm	- Nic decides that this is not, in fact, 
Ponderosa Shelter, therefore we must continue. He is 
mistaken. KILL THE FREAK!! We stop two campsites 
July 23
7:30am	- get up
Unfortunately I seem to have developed a horrible blister on my heel. So I went back 30 min. to Ponderosa shelter with all of the food, while Nic set off to hike onwards to see what lay ahead. After 10 minutes, he got lonely and decided to come back (claiming a "near-fatal accident"). He didn't even have a bear pelt to show for his effort. Anyways, it looks like today will be our layday. -BA

July 24

8:31am	- wake up
After a truly exhausting day yesterday of lounging around Ponderosa shelter, Nic and I have decided that there is to be breakfast in bed. On this matter we are agreed. The controversy arises with regard to who should be the one to make the breakfast (this would require getting out of bed). I believe quite firmly that it should be Nic who gets up. Nic, for some disillusioned reason, believes that it should be me. Perhaps we will just wait for the next set of campers to pass by the campsite. "Hey you! It's about bloody time! Get to it; we've been waiting!" The other matter is how we are to flip the pancakes, sans spatula. I vote that Nic flips them by throwing them up in the air and catching them in the pan. Of course, there's the danger that the pancake will fly over his shoulder, hitting a passing bear in the face. "Mmmmmmm... pancakes. Hey, why is it so cold all of the sudden?! Hey!...." It's a rough life, being such hardy campers such as ourselves.

- BA

An exciting day so far. After lounging around the campsite for most of the morning, making a hearty breakfast of pancakes, we set out at 11:20 on a day hike for Cottonwood Creek." After walking for about five minutes, on getting about 20 feet before a stream we had to cross, we notices that it was occupied by a Grizzly Bear. I froze, Brett started to run, but we calmed down and walked away, back to the campsite.

- NT

[ed. note: Steven Herrero's book "Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance" states: "Keep in mind that most sudden encounters leading to injury have occurred when the person was not aware of the grizzly until it was less than fifty-five yards away. Supposedly the bear was not aware of the person any sooner, and when it became aware, the person was already too close." (p126)]

While considering what to do back at Ponderosa shelter, we thought it might be appropriate to consider our campsite evasion tactics. Unfortunately, woefully little was offered in the way of trees to climb, and even our attempts to get on top of Ponderosa shelter were fruitless (unless, of course, the bear would be so good as to give us a boost.) We had just decided that are best option would be to stay put for a little while, when who should appear but our old friend, the Great Grizzly Bear! Oh boy! I guess it forgot to introduce itself the first time. While it stood in the corner of our campsite (almost directly under the food bag) and peered at us, we decided, once again, to exit stage left. We are now sitting a goodly distance along the trail, with only a small amount of equipment (including our peanut butter and *honey* sandwiches).

- BA

In four minutes we will head back to the campsite to pack up. We will have a rousing chorus of "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall," to advise the bear of our presence. Nic is already warming up his "fine baritone voice." What a day.

- BA

Made it across the cable crossing. More later...

- BA

What a day. After getting down to negative sixteen bottles of beer (I made up a new verse: "If an anti- beer should happen to appear..."), we hightailed it out of Ponderosa with all our stuff at 1:25. Fortunately everything appeared to be untouched by the bear. Due to my blistered heel, I was wearing one flipflop sandal and one hiking boot. This worked well, except for those unfortunate times when it slipped off my foot. Anyways, extreme paranoia set in as we noticed the recently dug up stumps and roots, large impressions in the dirt, and big, fresh scats with the flies still buzzing. It seemed that we were either following, or being followed by, a bear. After about two hours of this excruciating tension, my sandal had just slipped off again. As I bent over, I heard a short, harsh roar, sounding almost like it came from above. Neither Nic nor I immediately realised that this was unmistakably the woof of a grizzly, very close. Without even turning around we doubled our pace-- that was too close for comfort. Fortunately a woof is usually used for intimidation or warning-- a low growl is more likely to indicate attack. We didn't rest until we made the cable crossing, and then continued all the way to our first campsite-- roughly five hours of solid, tense, speedy hiking. After this third encounter we are thinking that we may tuck this trip short and pack out tomorrow. We probably won't be sleeping too well in the valley.

- BA

Yes, it seems that we were following a bear. We'd been making LOTS of noise after our encounter at Ponderosa, singing songs, going over Frantics skits and occasionally yelling out "Olé!" but the markings on the trail clearly indicated, as Mr. Allen mentioned, the very recent passing of a bear. Though I thought the woof came from behind us, Brett thought it came from above, which would be an interesting scenario: the bear, moving down the trail to get away from our noise, eventually decided to climb a tree. We treed a bear! "Bear! Quick! Climb a tree! [Stephen Herrero, in his book "Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance," notes that a bear has never dragged a person down from a tree at more than 38 feet high] No! Wait! It's IN the tree! DIG!" [It seems unlikely that a bear would attack a person in a hole more than 38 feet deep]

In hindsight, I think we were right to leave Ponderosa Shelter. Stephen Herrero notes that if there's evidence that a BLACK bear has been at a campsite, you should exercise extreme caution, but if it was a grizzly, "you should just pack up and leave, no matter how tired everybody is."

- NT

July 25

1:02 pm
Well, Nic and I have been in civilisation (or at least, the "Canyon Oasis Bakery and Cafe") long enough to have two games of chess. The bus doesn't come for another 3 hours, so we have some time to kill. The weather has been overcast, and Nic has exclaimed "Oh, the first few drops of rain!" about a dozen times since 6am this morning. I guess with all the sunny weather we've had so far, he never got the rain he'd hoped so much for.

- BA

7:18 pm
During the bus ride we've decided that we need to be a little better prepared against bears next time. Perhaps a twelve-foot electrified chain-link fence around the campsite, anti-bear ditches, all of the trees cut down in a 50 meter radius so that the search lights can sweep the area, land mines around the perimeter, tripwires attached to suspended anvils, spiked pits covered with leaves, and snipers armed with AK-47 assault rifles. The food itself will be locked in a steel safe in an area suitable for nuclear waste disposal - a 100' tube drilled into the bedrock. Then perhaps we will be able to get a good night's sleep, except for the air raid sirens going off each time a rabbit hits the electric fence. But at least those pesky bears wouldn't bother us again.

- BA & NT

See also:
Brett Allen (
This page is Copyright 1994-2006, Brett Allen.