This past summer the band decided we hadn't had the opportunity to spend enough time together so we decided we'd take a few weeks and have an extended camping trip in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. We left in early July and spent a few days on the road taking our time as we meandered our way south. We stopped in Denver for a day or two before heading on West, the mountains slowly fading into view through the atmosphere.
That night we settled in a little hollow in the mountain face where we were sheltered from the wind. We set up our tents, built a little fire, enjoyed some bacon roasted over the open flames and hit the sack.
It must have been around one thirty in the morning when we started hearing the noises. Scuffling, sniffing, and the occasional crash of our gear. We sat up and looked around at each other.
"Sounds like a bear." Luke said, "Probably smells the bacon."
The bears made quick work of the few remaining strips of bacon and started looking around, their appetites barely whetted. It quickly became apparent that our stash of trail mix was not going to satisfy them as they slowly started advancing towards us where we stood, huddled against the stone wall.
To my left I could hear Luke whimpering. I believe Rick was saying Hail Mary's under his breath, but I couldn't be sure. I was quietly soiling myself. Curt glanced at us, and stepped out to meet the bears.
The first bear took a swipe at him, but Curt easily ducked under it and jammed his thumb into the bear's eye. The bear roared and lunged, but once again Curt was inches out of reach and lashed back with a solid uppercut right beneath the bear's chin. The Bear sat back a moment, stunned, Curt seized the moment and quickly swung himself over onto the bear's back and wrapped his arms around the bear's neck, closing his windpipe.
It was then that the other bear made its move. It had been slowly circling behind Curt and as Curt tightened his grip, the second bear ran in and began tearing through the muscle on Curt's right leg. We stood and watch. Paralyzed. Curt screamed and fell to the ground, but didn't quit fighting. He kicked the bear in the nose, which caused him to release Curt's leg long enough for Curt to roll over a few times and grab a rock about the size of his head. But the bear was on him again. Tearing through pants, skin and tendon. Curt screamed again and with all his strength lifted the stone above his head on brought it down on the bear's skull. There was a loud crack and the bear went limp. Curt pulled the now bloody stone from the bear's crushed skull, looked at the other bear and roared. The bear looked at his dead brother and took off into the forest.
Curt collapsed. It was a moment before we could move, but when we could we worked fast. We bandaged his leg as best we could, lashed together a makeshift stretcher and started down the mountain. It was nearly a day later before we could get Curt to the emergency room, and by then the leg was festering and Curt was running a high fever. The doctor decided that amputation was the only option and wasted no time. When Curt finally woke up three days later he was seven pounds lighter and that didn't include the weight he'd lost from eating through a vein in his arm for seventy-two hours.
He took the news like he takes all bad news. A moment of silence, a shrug of the shoulders, and a grin. He learned to walk with his phony leg quickly enough and it wasn't long before he was walking over for our weekly jams, though he would take the leg off while we played as it wasn't very comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
A few weeks later he suggested another camping trip, but we told him we'd cut off his other leg before we let him drag us out there again.
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