11.06.02 – Tuesday
When I was around five years old, my father took a sabbatical from the institution and drove the family in a brown Ford van throughout the western United States. We stopped at numerous national parks — Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, the Grand Tetons, even the Badlands: you get the picture. My grandparents on my mother’s side happened to come along for part of the drive, and my grandfather, who had been a sailor and had a childlike sense of humor (how the two relate, I cannot say), decided to indulge in a prank. One night — in Yellowstone, I think — he drew bear tracks in the dirt leading from the scrubby forest to a hopping irregular waltz outside the tent walls. I cannot remember if I was fooled by the trick, though I do remember that my grandfather took great pride in the incident, which leads me to believe that perhaps I was.
As I was hiking up Hunchback mountain yesterday afternoon, though, I recalled that my grandfather was on the other side of the country, which led me to believe that the fresh bear tracks I saw in the mud were indeed the genuine article. I pondered them for a moment with some interest, then turned, walked back down the hill and out of the woods.