I could hardly see Bear from the ground even while it was light, but as I climbed, his eyes caught the light from my head lamp a few times and he let out some intermittent meows, which guided me to him. Once I reached my initial tie in point I still had about 10 feet to climb to get to Bear and I carefully advanced my line with the help of my headlamp and a couple of strong lights being held by the folks on the ground. Bear’s owner had given me a bag of freeze dried shrimp to get Bear’s attention, which worked as intended, and the smell enticed Bear to come down the last couple of feet to me.
When I got Bear into my arms he started purring and making biscuits on my arm with his sharp claws. Ouch!, but I knew he was happy so all was good. He went happily into the rescue bag, but started to freak out as I climbed down. Since I knew my ropes were tangled in the understory and it would take me a while to get to terra firme I carefully lowered Bear in the rescue bag the final 50 feet to his family on the ground. It was eerily surreal to watch the wiggly bag disappear into the darkness of the understory as the lights from the flashlights on the ground darted around in the blackness.
Back inside Bear was treated to a near constant supply of his favorite treats (which are usually carefully rationed), and I was handed a gallon size bag of oatmeal cookies still warm from the oven! What a treat! The ride back home was marked by cozy thoughts of Bear sleeping safely inside and oatmeal cookie overindulgence.