Dad barely had time to stop the truck when both boys pushed open the back doors and scrambled out. Aiden was getting taller and eased down without a reach. Trystan, however, was still small enough that he landed with a loud PLOP! Dad turned to look at him. “Be careful with the noise, Trystan. You might wake a sleeping bear.”
Trystan’s eyes flew open wide. “Bears!” He looked around as if he expected to see one staring at him. “Are you sure there are bears here?”
Dad shrugged and held his arms wide open. “It’s a big forest, and bears do live in the woods. I’m sure they’re out there somewhere. That’s why we need to make sure our food stays in this.” He reached into the back of the truck and pulled out a metal garbage can with a lock on it.
“What’s that?” Trystan asked.
“It’s a bear-proof locker,” Aiden quickly said. “We put our food in there, so bears and other wild animals can’t get to it.”
“That’s right,” Dad said, impressed that Aiden had taken the time to learn about bears in the wild. He couldn’t remember being near that excited about wildlife when he was Aiden’s age, even though his father had taken him camping often.
He handed each of the boys his backpack. “We have to hike in from here.”
“Are the bears going to eat me?”
Aiden shook his head. He held up his finger and looked at Dad. "I got this.” Dad grinned. “The Washington forests are home to black bears. Typically, they won't harm you if you leave them alone."
Trystan dropped his pack and crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm not going into that forest."
Aiden hoisted his pack onto his back with ease. “Don’t be a baby, Trystan,” he said. “Would you rather stay here by yourself?"
Trystan looked around the parking lot. It wasn't like the supermarket parking lot where there were plenty of cars and other shoppers around. There were a few cars, but given that tons of trees surrounded the lot, he guessed they all had hiked into the forest, which would likely mean they'd be gone a long time. He took hold of Dad’s hand. "We’ll be okay. Right, Dad?”
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