This year (2015) was my first camping excursion in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Highlights of this trip included driving over Independence Pass and a visit from a ghost bear. Yes, a ghost bear! Read on to find out more....
For summer vacation, we decided to visit my sister in Aspen. There are many outdoor activities in the area. One that we decided to explore is the exciting drive over Independance Pass, a narrow road with steep dropoffs, hairpin turns and an elevation of 12,095 feet. You can read about the pass on Wikipidia. The scenery is spectacular. There are several campgrounds, hiking trails and the ghost town of Independence (info).
Ghost town of Independence
View from the summit
While driving through Independence Pass we camped in Weller Campground (info). It's a nice campground, though the door to the toilet didn't have a lock so we had to stand guard for each other. Weather was partly cloudy and not too cold considering the elevation. There is an easy hike to Weller Lake across the road (info).
Camping in Weller Campground
Wildlife in the campground
Most of the time you hear about ghost stories told to frighten your fellow campers around a camp fire. These are fanciful, made up stories to add excitement to the camping trip. What I am about to tell you is a real ghost story. No one told it to me. It really happened to me.
During the night while camping in the back of the truck in Weller Campground we woke up to the sounds of scratching.
<scratch> <scratch> <scratch>
It sounded like an animal scratching at the passenger door. I thought it must be a bear trying to get into the cab of the truck. Perhaps some food left in the truck had attracted it.
I was hesitant about leaving the safety of the back of the truck to confront the animal. Looking out through the windows with a flashlight was inefective due to the reflections of the window. Perhaps it could be scared off. I used the truck remote to unlock/lock the doors. This had the effect of turning on the headlights. The sound stopped. We waited, listening for sounds of movement outside the truck. Moments passed.
The sound of scratching returned. The bear was still trying to get into the truck. I had thoughts of the animal damaging the truck in its efforts to gain access. How were we going to scare it away. I still couldn't see anything through the window.
Was that a jostle of the truck as the animal tried harder to gain access? I must find a way to scare it so that it would leave the truck alone. I reached for the remote and pressed the button to start the engine. The truck started and the headlights turned on. The sound of the scratching stopped, but I couldn't see anything outside. I waited a minute before shutting off the engine. Was the bear gone? We waited.
Oh no! The bear was still outside! What was it going to take to convince the bear to leave us alone? I couldn't see anything outside. The other people camping were all asleep. I needed to stop the bear before it damaged the truck. I decided that I should go outside and take a look to see exactly what was happening. I unzipped the tent used to extend the bed of the truck and poked my head outside with the flashlight. I shined the light around to see if anything was behind the truck. I couldn't see anything out of the ordinary, though the scratching had stopped. I tried looking to the side of the truck, but couldn't do so without fully exiting the back of the truck. I slowly stepped outside and peeked around the corner. Nothing. I shone the light under the truck. Nothing. I looked at the other side of the truck and in the bushes. Again nothing. What had been making the noise? It wasn't windy and there were no trees or bushes rubbing against the truck. I looked at the door expecting to see paw prints, but saw nothing.
I climbed back into the bed of the truck and zipped up the back. There was no scratching while I investigated outside. Perhaps the animal had been scrared off when I exited the vehicle? I got back under the blankets hoping the matter was at an end.
The scratching had returned! We decided to ignore the scratching. It took a while to go back to sleep with scratching noises outside, but there was nothing else we could do. How do you stop a ghost bear? At least it wasn't doing any damage to the truck. Maybe if it was ignored it would go on its way.
I awoke in the morning to the noises of other campers breaking camp. No more scratches could be heard. The ghost bear had moved on.
Dumont Lake Campground
We also camped at Dumont Lake Campground (info) near Steamboat Springs. It is a very nice campground with great views of meadows, mountains, trees and wildflowers. Dumont Lake is close by, but not visible from the campground.
Camping in Dumont Lake Campground
Trail near Dumont Lake Campground