By Eric Francis, Standard Correspondent
Two brothers saw their cooler heisted by a bear last week while camping in North Carolina only to get home to Vermont and have another close encounter at their parents’ house in South Woodstock.
Ian and Sumner Ford spent the winter in Wyoming and were taking a circuitous route back home when they set up camp out for a night in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.
“We were in Sumner’s little two-person tent with a big rain fly over the whole campsite covering our mountain bikes, our chairs and the cooler,” 23-year-old Ian recalled this week.
“I woke up in the middle of the night and heard the lid of the cooler going up and down,” Ford remembered.
Waking his older brother, the pair listened intently as the intruder worked its way through the darkened campsite.
“We were kind of freaked out at first because we thought ‘somebody’ was out there and then we realized it sounded more like ‘something’ was out there.”
Getting a brief glimpse of a bear at the edge of the rain fly, “We knew that it had taken our cooler,” Ian explained.
Figuring their food was gone but so was the bear, the pair were “fully back asleep” when the bear came back a few hours later.
“It was a big black bear and it this time it was really close to us, right at the door of our tent, over on the side where Sumner was sleeping. I heard it and I woke up. I was leaning over Sumner and I could see that it was right there so I just screamed. Sumner sat up and he yelled too and it took off.”
When the sun came up the Fords took a look around the area and found their cooler about 50 yards away where the bear had dragged it.
“It went through it and ate the whole pack of bacon, the eggs and three sticks of butter,” Ian
said, adding, “It also tried to get some beers but I guess it didn’t like them.”
Four days later, safely home at their parents’ house up on Fletcher Hill, the brothers left their camping gear, including the empty cooler, out on the porch to air out.
“We were all in our family room and we could tell there was something on the porch. Mom got up and went to the front door and started saying ‘There’s a bear! There’s a bear! There’s a bear! …’” The new bear had gone straight for the same cooler the other bear had briefly taken off with 800 miles to the south. “There was no food of any kind on the porch but the bear was obviously pretty curious about the cooler,” Ian said, “Maybe it could smell the scent from the first bear.”
The rush of the family to the door scared the bear off but “afterwards everyone was saying we should have been taking pictures,” Ian said, explaining that he finally got that chance just a few hours later during his fourth and final bear run-in of the week.
“Everybody was in bed when I heard it again and knew right away what it was so I started recording and that’s the tape that is on the Internet,” Ian explained, “Mom put in on Facebook.”
This article first appeared in the May 18, 2017 edition of the Vermont Standard.