A Grizzly Discovery
She didn’t think it would happen, but it was finally morning. The sun was rising. Its warming orange fingers spread across the horizon. She was alive and thankful. The long cold night had been terrifying.
She became separated from her hiking partners yesterday and began to follow a faint trail. She was worried, knowing that the wilderness area was home to multiple carnivores; bears, cougars, wolves, and even wolverines. Planning for a short hike, she carried no survival gear except a water bottle. She followed the faint trail; each sound causing her to jump. Searching, she found a broken branch with a sharp end that she could use as a walking staff and a spear if necessary. It was protection of sort and made her feel safer.
Along the path were blueberry bushes. She ate the few lingering berries that remained. They did little more than to whet her appetite. She drank deeply from a crystal clear freshet, then refilled her water bottle, before moving on.
Afraid that she would be forced spend the night she probed every overhang, cave, brush pile, and overturned tree looking for a haven from the animals and the cold. When the sun dropped over the horizon, the temperatures would drop as well. She needed to find a dry, secure place to spend the night.
As long tendril shadows reached over the land, she found a deep, dry crevice between two leaning rocks. This would have to be it. It would be her den of safety. She gathered and hauled leaves into the cave. It would insulate her from the cold ground and cover her to trap the heat. Intertwining branches, she narrowed the opening to keep larger animals outside. Pushing her pointed staff through the opening as a deterrent, it would impale any creature that tried to enter.
Barely settled, the darkness fell like a heavy, black blanket. It arrived with furtive unidentifiable noises from the outside. Although she tried to stay awake, she nodded off occasionally.
As the first rays of the rising sun pried the reluctant fingers of darkness from the distant horizon, she rejoiced. She had outlasted the night and was safe to face the new day.
From the depths of the den at her back came the sounds of snuffing and the shambling footpads of a grizzly bear.