I just got back from a bear hunt where absolutely everything went wrong. Between getting eaten alive by mosquitoes the first evening (seriously, it was bad), and the moon being so obnoxiously bright that I couldn't sleep, it was already off to a rough start. Add to that the fact that I hiked and glassed multiple drainages, stared at countless prickly pear cacti brimming with perfectly ripe fruit that hordes of bears SHOULD be eating, and yet turned up absolutely zero wildlife. It was actually eerie...every other step I was walking through old elk, deer, antelope, and even some bear sign, but I never encountered a single fresh piece of evidence that any other living creature was currently in this part of the wilderness. It was as if aliens had come a year before and abducted every four-legged creature in this canyon, leaving only their dried and sun-baked poo as a reminder that they once roamed the landscape. Traditionally speaking, the hunt was an absolute failure.
We had been in the wilderness all of 5 minutes when Hendric jumped up and proclaimed he had just sat on a cactus. Sure enough, a small prickly pear near our tent had escaped his notice, and he had literally sat on it. Of all the fun dad jobs I've ever had to take on, pulling cactus spines one at a time out of your son's bare butt cheeks is up there with one of the most bizarre. (For the record, this would be one of three encounters he'd have with a cactus over the next 24 hours..."watch where you're going" is the most repeated lesson he learned on this trip)