methow grist 2011-2014 archive

Bear Story?

This factual report on an event in the mountains was found in Methow Valley Ranger District history files. Unfortunately, the author is not known.

During the summer of 1922, Ranger Fred Wehmeyer had what seemed to be a potentially bad fire near the divide between Gold Creek and Lake Chelan. He went to the fire with a good crew (six to eight men). Ranger Grantham, who was then stationed at Squaw Creek, was sent in with a similar crew to help. He packed in a good supply of food by pack horse, arriving after dark.

Ranger Wehmeyer and his crew had no food supplies so they went to Grantham’s camp for supper and the night. There was a shortage of beds, so all the blankets were used in a row. The fire fighters slept together in the one bed where it had been made in the dark. The horses were tied up nearby for the night. A candle was placed in a little chopped notch in a tree. When everyone was comfortably covered, George Dean (George Wright’s brother-in-law) shot out the candle light with a revolver and everyone went to sleep.

About midnight one of the horses pulled back on the halter rope and snorted. Jess Miller of Pateros woke up and hollered  “Whoa!” so loud it scared the other horses. The dog was frightened and it ran across the long bed and over the sleeping fire fighters. Someone hollered “Bear!”  Mr. Grays went up a tree. George Dean reached for his revolver under the pillow (coat) but reached too far and grabbed the cinch rope hook which had been dropped there in the dark. It felt like a revolver so he tugged and pulled. Grantham thought Dean was a bear. He also thought Mr. Grays, in the tree, was a bear, and mistook the dog for another one. Dean was the closest so Grantham socked him on the side of the head. Fred Wehmeyer was frozen under the covers. The second blow from Grantham brought a loud protest from Dean, “Quit hitting me!” 

It was then discovered that there were no bears in camp.


Have a comment?

Sounds a lot like "The Night the Bear Ate Goomba" by Patrick McManus. A hilarious short story.

Dawn Woodruff