THE LETTER

The name of the program was Chime 3D, called after a local area creek. It was just a normal bush program in foothills type country but was unique to me as it was the last time I used conventional survey equipment as a standard. These days it is all done with GPS equipment and your position is beamed to you from the skies. The heart of the conventional gear was the instrument. My favorite ever is a T16 theodolite paired with a DTM series distance-meter. This optical equipment took talent to measure and record the correct survey under varying conditions and, too bad, it is an almost type of art now lost to technology. The GPS equipment is shiny and slick and I can train anyone to survey with it in 1 hour. It used to take years of training to be able to lay out these programs before this. Enough lamenting then, but I truly loved to survey all day in the wilderness recording distances and angles and features, and I was part of it.

Chime 3D covered about 10 square miles as I recall and was unique in a second fashion. There lived in it a grizzly bear. A mean one, as it turned out. In those days we worked in pairs; I being the surveyor, and a rodman, working up to a kilometer apart. We would start the day usually with a hike in off the nearest road or a drop by helicopter
if it was too far. It might have been the helicopter flying over his house that made the bear that way but there was other activity in the area including some timber-cruisers and tree-planters as part of our program bordered on a past logging operation being reforested.

The hand-cutting crews cut the lines with chainsaws well before us and we had a good path to follow and stake our points. One day, maybe the third day in, Bernie had just given me a turn at the top of this long, high hill. As I was taking a breather at the half way point, I felt the bear’s presence in the forest with me. What I felt was the malice in this bear and I, being a new father, became afraid, something I had never been before. Afraid of women to be sure, but neither man nor beast. I realized it was fear for my child now and not myself.

The days continued and on one of those I stood on a hill and saw a great thicket and I knew this was where the bear lived. We kept going our traverse through the thicket, which took a good two-three hours to get through, it being of course very thick and with a small creek running through it. We all of us have at times had the hair stand up on the back of our necks, maybe not knowing why or why at the time. This time I knew the reason. I was watched the whole way though I never saw the bear he was there and I was careful not to let show any fear-smell or motion. I was glad at the end of that day, but the next day I would be going back through there on an adjacent line.

The day came with a drop off by helicopter after we got the hand-cutters out. A fresh summer foothills morning still brisk until 10 AM and stagnantly hot by noon if no wind was blowing. It was about 11 in the morning and I was thinking about my lunch in my truck about a hour ahead. I had left it parked on an oil field road ... consequently on the hill overlooking the thicket where I now knew the grizzly lived. Suddenly, I knew the bear was around and became wary. The next hour until I reached the road I kept my eyes and ears open like a hawk and a bat.

When I reached the road there were some of our people on it and 100 meters to the side of where I came out. The griz had attacked a tree planter and she survived with only scratches and no bites. Turns out Bob, our cat push, was kind of a hero and may well have saved her life. As Bob told it, "I came 'round the corner and here was this girl running down the road with no shirt on and the bear behind, so I aimed the truck for the bear and hit my horn and he took off."

Made the paper in Grande Cache and Fish and Wildlife came out and shot it the next day. The girl was okay and enjoyed her notoriety in the Hotel bar for the next couple of days so it was said.

The thing is, I felt that bear, the roughness of him, the temper in him, knew when he watched me or was close to me, but never once saw him.

FOOT & CHAIN