Directly across from Moose Mountain, on the west side of Lester River, is a high ridge. Our childhood home was located just north of there on the West Tischer Road. One lovely summer day my brother and I decided to climb up the ridge and camp for the night. As young teens in the 1950s and having climbed up there before to enjoy the scenic vista across the valley, we were ready.

There are homes up there today, and I'm so glad we did it when we could.

We packed up our old pup tent, matches for a campfire, a couple blankets, hot dogs for supper, and our single-shot .22 rifle. With our beloved dog Willy we hiked up the steep hill to the ridge. It was an arduous climb, but we made our way and settled into a lovely clearing in the woods.

Things went well that evening as we roasted our wieners over a fire, picked some berries, and stood at the cliff’s edge to enjoy the marvelous scenery. As darkness approached, we settled into our old Army pup tent for the night.

Then we heard the hum of mosquitoes emerging from the woods. We were not prepared for this; our old pup tent was leaky, and we had no repellent. They ravaged us without mercy.

After a couple of agonizing hours, Willy became alarmed and was growling and barking. We were concerned a bear was stalking us and decided to decamp and head home. By this time our flashlight had grown dim, and we couldn’t find our trail home. It was a very dark night, and we were concerned, too, of falling off the steep cliff. My .22 rifle was loaded but wouldn’t have helped much against a bear.

Suddenly, I decided, “Willy knows the way; let’s just follow him home.” After a moment of standing around, fearfully, our dog began to move. He brought us to the steep trail, and we slipped and slid and made our way down in the darkness to safety. We gave that mountain back to the bear and the mosquitoes. The bear still ruled the ridge.

Dennis Cooke of Proctor is a songwriter and frequent contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page.