a dog is man's best friend.one thing that always boost my confidence is my pack of dogs. They amplify my senses.
I live in open country and I also camp often.
scariest thing was camping near silverton CO in a station wagon and having the whole wagon be surrounded by wolves.
Down here in texas..especially where i live..our main worries are snakes, then wild pigs, then gators, and coyotes in that order when we go camping. its nowhere near the perils that you will face in yukon (have camped there myself) or alaska though.
I pretty much agree with that. I'm far more afraid of someone's pet German Shepherd attacking me than I am of the wild animals around here. Dogs tend to "protect" people that aren't in any actual danger. I can't tell you how many times I've been on the trail and walked up on an unleashed dog who perceived me as a threat and acted aggressively towards me.The belief that in order to survive in the wilderness you need a gun is a bit of BS in my opinion. Not everything is out to kill you. IMO, the only place in North America where you truly need a gun is in parts of Northern Canada/Alaska where Polar Bears and Grizzlies reign supreme. If you are being unknowingly stalked by a Cougar you are probably fvcked either way.
When I and my wife were quite a bit younger, we decided that we would spend the bicentennial outdoors. Yes, July of '76......we're old. We lived in Pueblo at the time, and decided to go hiking, fishing and camp along Lime Creek between Durango and Silverton. There wasn't anything other than brookies in the creek, but they were plentiful and fun to catch.
We left our car by the side of the road along Old Lime Creek Road about 5 miles in from the highway and packed in upstream along the creek with our shepherd, Rebel. It only took us about an hour to get to where we wanted to camp, a nice meadow beside the creek just before a slot canyon that required you to swim to get any further upstream. Either that or take a several mile detour.
We camped uneventfully that night, the third of July, enjoying the sounds of the rippling creek and nature all around us. It was such a nice night that we just slept out under the stars, didn't bother to pitch our little backpacking tent. A little cool, but we had the fire going and our lightweight 30 degree bags, so we were very comfortable.
The next day we had breakfast, packed up and we all swam our way up the creek to the next wide spot with a bit of bank in the canyon, only about 150 yards or so. Now Rebel was never one to turn down a chance to get wet, but we had to do quite a bit of coaxing to get him to follow us up the creek. We fished and splashed upstream a bit, and before we knew it it was lunchtime. We thought we'd fry up some of those brookies but we were in this slot canyon that terminated in a fairly deep pool with about a ten foot rocky waterfall at the end of it.
We decided that I would scale the waterfall and pull the dog and the packs up and then I'd help Maggie get up. It was fairly difficult, even with the help of an old cable left over from a mining operation that was hanging down the side wall of the canyon. It took a LOT of effort and though we finally made it, we looked back down that waterfall and wondered what the heck we were thinking. Rebel was none too happy about it either, and seemed to get more irritable by the minute. We found enough driftwood at the rocky top of the falls to get a fire started and get the fish fried up, but that was about it.
You know the uneasy feeling that several others have mentioned? It was like a switch turned on and we all of a sudden became aware of our surroundings. It grew like a cancer and I actually watched the hair on the back of Rebel's neck stand up. Maggie felt it too and we both noticed that it was getting dark FAST down in this canyon. First thought in my head was a cat, and I actually felt a bit better about that because I figured the cat would leave us be, between the fire and the dog. I told Maggie what I thought and she seemed to feel a bit better, too.
I did not want to get caught in the dark in the canyon, for a bunch of reasons, flash floods etc. I spied what looked like a mine shaft about 2 hundred feet above us, a heck of a steep climb, but it looked like our best bet. We pulled out our flashlights and by the time we reached it it was PITCH black. The dog was a mess by this point, whipping around in circles, whining, yelping and generally being a real pain in the ass. Maggie and I were drenched with sweat and immediately began to freeze. July in the mountains is a weird thing, I have seen blizzard conditions before, but this was like someone turned on the deep freeze.
We were at what looked like the start of a mine, it only went back about ten feet, but there was evidence of fires at the mouth, and they curiously looked fresh. I was too tired to think more about it, I knew we had to get out of our wet clothes, pitch the tent, and climb in our bags before we got serious hypothermia. That was NO fun, let me tell you, having to do all of that by the light of our rapidly dying flashlight. And there was NO firewood anywhere close.
I cursed myself several times for letting things get this far out of control. We finally got the tent pitched right there in the back of this little cave , buck naked as we had no dry clothes left. The sleeping bags were slightly damp too, even though we had stuffed them in plastic garbage bags before our swimming expedition up the canyon. WE FROZE!! It was miserable.
About 1 in the morning I called Rebel into the tent for a little heat. The dog seemed to have calmed down greatly, and with the added heat we drifted off. Sometime during the night I heard something that just about woke me, I was still in a haze, so I fell asleep again immediately. I woke up one other time, because I thought I heard Rebel yip a little bit, but again I was in and out. I put my hand out to pet his head and he licked my hand. I fell asleep again. Maggie later said she fell asleep the same time as I did but never woke up at all during the night.
I woke to the most horrible noise I have ever heard come out of a hundred pound woman. Just the most God-awful shrieks that I have ever heard. I never want to hear that again.
I opened my eyes just in time to see a man at the mouth of the shaft, silhouetted against the morning daylight, looking back at us with the most twisted evil grin I have ever seen on the face of another human. I scrambled to get free of my tightly zipped bag and the little tent while he just crouched there and grinned. When I was just about free, he disappeared. Now, we were granola crunchin' tree huggin' anti-gun nature freaks at the time, so the only thing I had of any consequence as a weapon was my camp knife. I found it after what seemed like hours of searching, but really was probably under a minute. I very cautiously made my way to the entrance, millimeters at a time. The guy was gone.
About that time Maggie started screaming and whimpering again so I rushed back to the back of the shaft. She had struggled out of the tent and was pointing at what used to be Rebel. His head was nearly severed, and the tent and the bags were ruined with the blood all over everything. She had blood all over her, so the first thing I did was make sure she was not injured. Then I checked myself. We were ok,it was all Rebel's blood.
We put on our still damp cold clothes from the night before and then we noticed that our boots were gone. We were in trouble. I had some paracord, so we tied some shirts and towels around our feet and climbed back down towards the creek. We left everything in the mine, except for the knife and some stuff that we shoved in our pockets. It took us 8 hours to get back down to the car, and we were like hamburger. Hands, feet, arms and legs scraped raw, bruised and bleeding. We jumped in, the car started right up thankfully and we left a dust cloud that blanketed the valley as we sped down the rough trail toward Durango.
We limped into the Sheriff's office and we looked like hell. We got our story out, my wife through tears and me talking waaay too fast. but finally got it all out. The deputy said that they would go out first thing in the morning and asked us to stay in town. We had no money for a hotel, so he let us stay in a cell after we showered and changed into prison jumpsuits.
We were there at the jail waiting when the "expedition" returned with the convoy of three trucks. I noticed that all the officers, who were quite wet and filthy, gave us dirty looks as they passed us, and the Deputy that we had talked to the day before herded us back to his office. Then came the interrogation. Turns out that some animal had spread the dog's remains all down the slide to the creek, and he said that there was nothing else there. No tent, no backpacks, nothing. He asked us if we had any drugs. I did not want to admit to him that we had some herb, so I denied it.
It was clear that we were fighting a losing battle. They had come to the conclusion that we were wandering out in the woods high on LSD while a mountain lion had gotten our dog. The bastard even made us change back into our filthy clothes and give back the jumpsuits right then. He told us that he had better never see us again. We left. Maggie was sobbing. I never have been back to Durango.
The thing that I still have nightmares about years later, and I have never mentioned this to Maggie, is....... the second time I woke up when I heard Rebel yelp, was that when his throat was cut?.......and if it was, was it the dog who licked my hand before I fell back asleep?
I still go out in the wilderness, never overnight, out well before dark, only with other people, and always with a big gun. I respect animals, but I fear people.