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Monday, October 19, 2009

Of Bears, Part III of III

Posted by Lindy West on Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 4:04 PM

Here's part one. Here's part two.

This is Hugh Glass before.
  • This is Hugh Glass before.
PART III: HUGH GLASS, RELUCTANT PIRATE

This is my favorite bear attack story of all time. Hugh Glass was a hella grizzled frontiersman—"a sailor, a reluctant pirate with Jean Lafitte, and an honorary Pawnee"—whose hella-grizzledness helped him survive the most badass ordeal in the history of asses:

Near the forks of the Grand River in present-day Perkins County, in August 1823, while scouting alone for game for the expedition's larder, Glass surprised a Grizzly mother bear with her two cubs. Before he could fire his rifle, the bear charged, picked him up, and threw him to the ground. Glass got up, grappled for his knife, and fought back, stabbing the animal repeatedly as the grizzly raked him time and again with her claws.

Despite his injuries, Glass regained consciousness. He did so only to find himself abandoned, without weapons or equipment, suffering from a broken leg, the cuts on his back exposing bare ribs, and all his wounds festering. Glass lay mutilated and alone, more than 200 mi (320 km) from the nearest settlement at Fort Kiowa on the Missouri.


SO WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO THEN, HUGH GLASS?

And this is Hugh Glass AFTER.
  • And this is Hugh Glass AFTER.
In one of the more remarkable treks known to history, Glass set his own leg, wrapped himself in the bear hide his companions had placed over him as a shroud, and began crawling. To prevent gangrene, Glass laid his wounded back on a rotting log and let the maggots eat the dead flesh.

Deciding that following the Grand River would be too dangerous because of hostile Native Americans, Glass crawled overland south toward the Cheyenne River. It took him six weeks to reach it.

Glass survived mostly on wild berries and roots. On one occasion he was able to drive two wolves from a downed bison calf, and feast on the meat. Reaching the Cheyenne, he fashioned a crude raft and floated down the river, navigating using the prominent Thunder Butte landmark. Aided by friendly natives who sewed a bear hide to his back to cover the exposed wounds, Glass eventually reached the safety of Fort Kiowa.

That's all. No biggie.

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