First Bear Encounter


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  1. #1

    First Bear Encounter

    during every hike, my mind almost always wonders to the possibility of encountering a bear or moose on the trail. not an event i was looking forward to, but i figured the possibility was likely inevitable after doing enough hikes.

    so i was hiking the slopes of a local ski area yesterday. coming down an open but narrow and windy slope that was rather over grown. i was making a ton of noise moving through the brush. i had always figured making noise would scare off the wildlife, but not in this case. at the least, it alerted the bear to my pressence, so it was not surprised when i rounded a corner and was staring straight into the eyes of a decent sized black bear sitting down and sunning himself on the slope.

    instinct took over pretty quickly. i averted my eyes immediately while keeping the bear in my peripheral vision and started slowly back stepping without turning my back. amazingly, not a second hesitation or hint of fear, pure fight or flight instinct, a beautiful thing. after i got about 50 feet up slope and ensuring i was not being followed, then the goose bumps occured, lol.

    it was definitely quite surprising rounding a turn to find a black bear 10-15 feet directly in front of me staring at me indifferently. additional surprising sight of the day was stopping by the lafayette campground to use the showers after the hike and seeing a black bear galloping in and out of camp sites scoffing quick meals! c'mon people! don't leave food out at a camp site! the camp store even had a sign of the counter saying a black bear was making the rounds and not to leave food out.
    -Steve "Skiing is not a sport, it is a way of life." - Otto Schniebs

  2. #2

    Glacier NP

    My first bear encounter was up in Glacier NP. I was photographing Bald Eagles when this big old smelly Griz and I met face to face.

    I saw him heading my way I was trying to avoid him but met him as I was trying to back off. He was surprised and did his 2 leg thing gave me a big roar and then took off.

    Had several more in my 17 years out west but the first is always the most memorable.

    While moose have no teeth and as far as I know only one person, about 10 years ago, has been killed by a moose I did accidently piss off a mother moose with child and she chased me for over a mile down a trail in the Tetons.

  3. #3
    Steven - are you still glad you moved back up to the NEK?????

    Quite a story! I am still waiting for my first face to face meeting with a bear, and hope it never happens! Way back when I was camping at a hut in the Adirondacks and from the safety of my bunk I saw a bear poking thru our stuff outside. Fortunately, there was nothing edible and he just moved on.

    Glad you are in one piece and just have a good story to tell - !!

  4. #4
    First bear encounter was coming down the southern branch of the Imp Trail. Cathie was having a hard time coming down the trail and we needed to catch a 4:00 shuttle back to Pinkham. We decided I would run ahead and catch the shuttle, retrieve the car, then come back to get her at the trailhead. She would hike down with an older couple that was out for a stroll that day. So I am running down the trail in a long straightaway and I come to a slight dip for a minor brook. I'm about 20 feet from the brook when a small bear jumps out into the middle of the trail and freezes when he sees me. It seemed like forever (more like 2 1/2 seconds)but after we traded surprised looks at each other, the bear barrels into the underbrush and scampers away. It was one of the moments where you couldn't react just register mentally what was going on. I measured a print he left in the mud to be about the size of the handle on my trekking pole.

    First run with a moose was on the Edmands Path on Eisenhower. Cathie and I were hiking up and chatting about nothing special when we start hearing a large thrashing, and crashing sounds to our right. Up ahead, about 20 yards a HUGE moose is bulldozing his way through the woods at Mach 3. Glad he was running east to west instead of North to south. Saw another moose on Cabot on the Bunnell Notch trail that was just sitting off the trail watching us go by.

    Wildlife is cool. Sometimes just sit somewhere in the woods and be very quiet, you'll be surprised at what you see.

  5. #5
    Steven - are you still glad you moved back up to the NEK?????

    Quite a story! I am still waiting for my first face to face meeting with a bear, and hope it never happens!
    oh sure i am glad i moved up here still. i would be hiking in the whites no matter where i lived while i definitely am not looking forward to any future encounters, i am sure i will have another eventually.
    -Steve "Skiing is not a sport, it is a way of life." - Otto Schniebs

  6. #6
    I had a similar experience: surprisingly calm and aware at the time, shivers down my spine after the event transpired.
    I've seen bears in the Sierra, Shenandoahs, and in our garage in Vermont! On two occasions, there were cubs involved, and once was in the dark with cubs and a momma involved.

  7. #7
    JimG.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Hopewell Jct., NY
    I've had several black bear encounters in the Catskills, most notably one on the Esopus creek while fly fishing in mid-Fall. Rounding a sharp river bend, I stumbled on a full grown sow and 2 cubs in the water. They were very calm and seemed to just be cooling off (it was an indian summer type day). They never seemed to acknowledge me and I carefully moved off.

    My scariest animal encounter was on the Ausable river in the ADK's. I finished fishing a deep pool and walked up on the river bank and was immediately divebombed by a large brown hawk. I must have wandered into its' nesting territory because this bird was PISSED. It literally drove me to cover inside a brush pile and kept me pinned there for over 20 minutes. Every time I looked out to see if the coast was clear the hawk would make another bombing run. Once it actually brushed past my hair.

    It probably sounds pretty funny, but I was terrified.

  8. #8
    bvibert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Torrington, CT
    Quote Originally Posted by JimG.
    It probably sounds pretty funny, but I was terrified.
    That does sound like it would be pretty funny to watch... Glad you made it out ok!

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