The Writings of LaVarr B Webb

In the summer of 1941, my old fishing partner, Jake, and I were looking for a new place to fish. We were not having much luck at East Canyon or Chalk Creek, so we went exploring. We had heard about a lake high up in the mountains north of Soapstone in the Uintas.

Jake had an old Model A Ford that was the Jeep of its day. We had outfitted it with "balloon tires," that provided a lot more traction than the standard narrow tires that the car had been equipped with. We found the old dirt road that went up the side of the mountain in a series of very rocky and very rough switchbacks. Jake put the old Model A into low gear, and up we went, bouncing and scraping over the rocks.

When we had climbed up and over the first ridge, we came to a more gradual slope that skirted around the mountain, high above a valley and small stream below. There were very few trees in the area, but the valley floor and the slopes of the mountain were covered with low brush and luxuriant grass.

When I looked down into the meadow-like bottom land, I could see a long series of pools, each connected by the small stream, and in each of the pools, I could see the circular ripple marks that indicated, in my mind, that great big fish were jumping. I told Jake to find a wide spot on that narrow dirt road, because I wanted to go fishing.

After he parked the car, we slipped, slid, and trudged at least a half of a mile down the side of that mountain, and there we found that the pools in that grassy, park-like area, were formed by beaver dams, and the fish that I thought I had seen were no longer jumping.

Any way, we went fly fishing, we caught fish on almost every cast, but they were small brooks, about six to ten inches long. We decided that the large ripple marks that I had observed were made by beaver slapping their broad tails on the surface of the water.

Along about mid-morning, when we had nearly caught all of the fish we wanted, Jake developed a toothache. To help him ignore the pain, he decided to go exploring. There was a stand of fir or pine to the east of us, high on the slope of the mountain. He told me he was going to hike up to it.

I watched him as he made his way up, and up. I saw him cut to the left, and start to make his way around a sharp hogs back. Then above him, and behind the hogs back, I saw a black something moving. I thought it was a bear, but I wasn't sure. I yelled, "Jake, Jake, there's a bear above you," but I couldn't make him hear.

I watched; very soon, the black spot turned into a bear, a big one. The bear was coming down a trail, skirting around the hogs back. Jake was climbing up the trail, also skirting around the hogs back. They were on a collision course.

Then I saw them come bear face to man face, and I saw the bear rear up on his hind legs, and I thought, "Poor Jake, my old fishing buddy is going to get mauled."

But, then there was an explosion. The surprised bear turned on his two rear legs, and pounded back up the mountain. Jake turned on his suddenly weak legs, and with longer and longer leaps, bounced down the mountain. And I, suddenly somewhat hysterical, thought I had seldom seen anything so funny, and I rolled in the grass down by the stream, and laughed and laughed.