View Full Version : ACTUAL FACE-TO-FACE Bear Encounters?

Rain Man
11-19-2003, 10:27
I'd like to hear from anyone who has had an actual personal face-to-face encounter with a bear on the AT. What was the situation? What happened?

I am NOT interested in hearing second-hand, word-of-mouth, rumors, "my brother's Scout Troop once upon a time...," statistics, I think a bear got my food bag, I think I heard a bear sniffing around in the dark, "I saw on TV" or "I read in a book," encounters OFF the trail, or similar kinds of stories. ONLY actual personal face-to-face encounters by YOU on the AT.

Did the bear see you and run away? Did it charge ferociously and rip your leg off? Did the two of you sit down and share a Snickers candy bar? What?


Rain Man

11-19-2003, 10:51
I finished eating dinner one May evening at Spence Field Shelter in the Smokys, all by myself. Hung my food in the cables and sat down to drink some bourbon and do a little reading, it being around 6 pm. I was sitting out from of the shelter, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted some movement in the trees. Looking over, I saw a cute bear with tags in his ear wandering up. Slowly, not threatening. I sat and sipped on my flask as the bear got closer and all I could think of was, "How cute." The bear wandered around for a few minutes until I realized that there was a bear in camp. I picked my stuff up and moved it into the shelter. The bear walked around the campfire area and sniffed up where my food was hung. He got within 15 feet a few times, which drew a shout from me. He ignored it and continued to walk around, but didn't come closer. I had some socks drying on the toolbox there (10 days of hiking on them) and he ate one of them, which I thought rather funny. After 30 minutes, he left.

All of my AT bear encounters have been in the Smokys, and I've seen a lot more off the AT than on it. Mother bear and two cubs in the Bone Valley. She growled, I backed off slowly until out of sight, then hauled ass. Feeding bear in the same general area saw me and took off like a rocket. Suprised a bear near Derrick Knob and he fled very quickly indeed. All the bear I enountered this summer on the PCT reacted in the same fashion: Run away as fast as possible.

Blue Jay
11-19-2003, 10:54
I've had many face to face encounters with Black Bears. Most of the time they completely ignore me, the rest of the time they run away FAST. Two years ago, at the first overlook after Springer, I was not paying attention and walked up behind a small bear and froze. It was clear he/she was sitting there looking at the view. I was so close I could see it's chest move as it breathed. I went to move away and made a very small sound on a rock. It left sooo fast it was almost like he disappeared. Actually that one was a face to back of head encounter as he never even looked back at me. Another time I came around a turn and there was a big one, right in the trail facing me. It started to make crying sounds, I backed up as it walked off the trail to my left. A baby ran up a tree several yards behind it. I walked way around them to my right, always away from them, saying softly, "It's OK I won't hurt your cub". She just watched me. At least eight times I have walked by bears tearing apart logs. They look over at me and go back to what they are doing. Two of them snorted in a way that made me think, "Oh, it's just another one of those aholes." I like bears, although that might change if they ever eat my food.

11-19-2003, 11:17
Living in the shadow of SNP, and hiking at least two days a week, I've seen scores and scores of bears. Some at a distance, some right close, some with momas and cubs, some solo, but only once did I have a scary "encounter" with one. Usually they either run off, continue whatever they were doing, or stare at me from a distance. One even stared at me for half an hour from the nearby woods as I cut the grass at Pass Mt. Hut two summers ago. Didn't even offer to help!

The one exception was a "bluff charge" in 1999 on the blue-blaze to Stony Man viewpoint just north of Skyland. I was SOBO, and took the blue blaze to the viewpoint to have dinner there. About 200 yards before the rock outcropping, Mr. Bear, probably in the 300-350 lb. range, came bolting down the narrow trail right at me. There was thick brush, rocks, and trees on either side of the narrow trail. Behind the bear, his only escape was to jump off a cliff. That left him, I thought, one option: to go through me.

I'd heard of bluff charges before, but never experienced one. Well here it was, with only a second or two to decide what to do. Rangers, naturalists, and veteran hikers all had told me at various times to try and look as imposing as possible, make lots of noise, wave my arms or better yet hiking poles, and try to scare him off (advice is for eastern black bear, not western grizzly!). Yeah, I'd thought sarcastically at the time, THAT'S gonna work. But what else could I do. I followed the advice, and having a large pack on may have helped make me look at little bigger, I dunno. The bear kept coming. Less than 10 feet away, at the last second, he bolted through the dense summer forest to my right and disappeared into the woods.

I was shaken, sure 'nough. Went out to the viewpoint, sat down, and got myself together. A few minutes later I came to a new realization: this had been a GOOD thing. Now I'd experienced a bluff charge, did what I was supposed to do, and it worked. This episode has given me more confidence in the woods. I ate my dinner and watched a beautiful sunset. Some tourists came and went, terrified after I told them what had happened, but Mr. Bear stayed away.

I have to figure this particular bear might have been more acclimated to humans than most. The location is a heavy tourist site, and most likely he'd pulled this stunt with other folks who wrongly dropped their packs and ran, providing a buffet for the bear. Also, it's near Skyland Resort, where bears have been known to yogi from tourists as well as raid garbage dumpsters behind the restaurant.

Park policy once they identify such a "problem" bear is to relocate it to give it a second chance. Unfortunately, a few have to be destroyed if they continue an aggressive behavior pattern. IMO it's a "people" problem that creates the bear "problem," but the bear often pays the price.

11-19-2003, 11:53
It was fall in the Smokies and I was hiking ahead of my buddy. The buckeye (?)nuts had been falling steadily, so I was zoning out dropping items from trees. I heard something drop so at first I thought "Oh, just a nut". Still hiking, I looked ahead to my right a noticed it was a stick that had fallen. Then I looked up and saw the bear in a tree about 15 ft ahead and maybe 15 ft up. Bear facts or no, my first instinct was to turn around and head back, it was still up the tree. I took two steps and glanced back and that bear was already down the tree, like a fireman sliding down a pole. Fortunately, the bear took off into into the woods away from me. Flashing the image through my mind, it was only a female or juvenile male, maybe 100-150 lbs. My suggestion is to try to respond appropriately(which I did not) treed or not, because they are just too fast to get away from.

11-19-2003, 13:25
I'd like to hear from anyone who has had an actual personal face-to-face encounter with a bear on the AT. What was the situation? What happened?
Rain Man


I’m looking forward to reading your trip report. Also, thanks for the kind words to the GATC yahoo group. It’s always good to here from someone who had a good experience on our trail.

Bear encounters:

My first bear encounter was about 100 yards north of Hog Pen gap at the trash cans. It was a Sunday evening in the fall. Somehow the bear managed to get into the bear-proof trash cans that were very full after a weekend of heavy use. As soon as my gaze was upon him, with a loud huff he was gone in a black blur.

Another encounter was just before Neels Gap. My family and I were coming down the hill almost to the highway when off to our right we see a flash of black fur running full steam up the mountain paralleling the trail at about 30 yards. We all looked at each other with jaws dropped. Was that a bear?!?

My third encounter was at Bird Gap campsite. We were camped with another group who had brought along a smallish dog. In the middle of the night I was awakened by his frantic barking. I laid there listening for what had caused his eruption. When I heard something of considerable size walking around. When I looked out there was a very good sized bear standing on his hind legs reaching with all his might for our bear bag that was juuuust out of his reach. After about an hour of listening to that dog, he finally gave up and left the area. The other campers were not going to hang their food that night but when I offered to hang it on my rope they accepted. I wonder if they had not hung their food what would have happened.

11-19-2003, 14:07
Both encounters in the SMNP.
First one, I walked and then ran away, but he was to close. YOU WILL NOT outrun a bear. I then stopped, turned around and yelled, flung arms, etc. and he stopped and hauled butt.
Second time, mother and 3 cubs up in separate trees as I passed by an empty shelter. Maybe 8-10 feet up the tree and the same off the trail. I just kept going and momma didn't even budge. I really wanted to snap off a pic as it is really an awesome thing to experience.However, thought it might be really stupid to stop, get my camera out of my pack, and really piss mom off. She was tolerant the first time.

11-19-2003, 15:15
Two years ago on the old rail bed just east of rausch gap shelter I walked up on a blackbear laying on the bridge. I had to cross the bridge, so I shouted and waved til he slowly got up and waddled to one side of the trail. As I then continued I spied his twin just twenty feet off to my right. What a surprise as they filed back onto the trail about thirty or forty yards behind me and followed me as the sun set and I could not see them any more. Both were about eighteen months old and seemed rather curious.


11-19-2003, 15:17
For me it was reached the top of the hill before you drop down to the road that leads into front royal. There was a fence on my left where the "zoo" is. Out of the undergrowth to my right a bear pops out. It was maybe 2 meters away. I used my copyrighted Kiwi bear scaring technique! That is shouting "F..k off" in my loundest vioce. I didn't even feel slightly nervous as I had seen a mountain lion 4 days before and that scared me!


The Solemates
11-19-2003, 15:30
We were in the Smokies staying at Silers Bald shelter when a bear came into our camp. It was about dusk and everyone was cooking dinner outside the shelter, which must have drawed him towards us. The bear came in and ripped up a bunch of stuff. Took someone's map bag, someone's food bag, and sliced open a wine bladder somebody was using for water. Then he tried to eat, or something of the sort, someone else's stove. I was just waiting for his nose to burst open in flames, but it never did. Anyways, we stayed in the "caged" shelter and watched him only 10 feet away. He stayed for about 30 minutes and then left. It was quite interesting, and the only bear i have seen that wasnt a half mile away. In Alaska I saw several grizzlies, but there were always on the opposite hillside.

11-19-2003, 17:15
Let's see,

There was Roscoe at the Wayside in SNP. I was enjoying a burger at a picnic table outside when he came around the corner. I calmly picked up my food and walked back inside. He hung around outside as tourists gathered to watch him.

In Pennslyvania I was about 5 to 10 minutes out of the shelter on morning when 2 crossed the trail ahead of me. I yelled at them, for what ever good it does, and they walked off the trail. I can assure you that bears to poop in the woods.

At High Point NJ, a bear made it's rounds early one morning, checking the bear box and elsewhere before moving on. I watched from the shelter.

In North Carolina and Tennessee, all I saw was the hind end as the bear hightailed it over the ridge away from me. Happend 2 or 3 times.

11-19-2003, 19:28
My closest bear encounter was in SNP two years ago. It was about 7 PM in the backcountry and as my brother and I were walking the trail back to camp, the bear was walking the trail directly towards us! I would say that the bear approached to within 30 yards of us before all of us stopped in our tracks.

I had to tell my brother to stop walking. He was oblivious to the bear's presence! We slowly back away and off the trail and into the brush. The bear also slowly backed off and walked up the hill on the opposite side of the trail. He observed us from a distance for quite some time. We got back on the trail and walked slowly by the bear---he was still observing from up on the hill to our left. The bear never moved or followed us and we arrived back in camp about 20 minutes later.

We were a little concerned for a while, because it was time to prepare dinner and we knew that a fairly good sized bear was in the vicinity. But, things worked out. We never saw the bear again that trip.

11-19-2003, 19:47
first and only bear encounter so far occurred this past summer in SNP. My girlfriend and I were hiking on the Neighbor Mtn Trail near the intersection of Jeremy's Run Trail. We were into our hike when out of the corner of my eye, approximately 10 yards away in a tree, a small black bear spotted us. While we froze, it zipped down the tree and met it's sibling (at least in size) and both shot off like a light into the woods.

I was so upset that I didn't have my glasses on, however thankful for the way it transpired.

This is good stuff, makes work fly by. I can already see myself hiking this weekend. Thanks!

11-19-2003, 19:56
I also live near Shenandoah National Park (Charlottesville is 20 miles from Rockfish Gap). I have seen numerous bears in the park and on the AT. None of them stand out particularly. I was growled at by a sow and her cub near the junction of Rip Rap Hollow Trail and the AT. A few have been up in trees, a few in cars, and a few off in the woods.
Interesting fact: A yearling bear was hanging out in the woods on the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He bluff charged a couple of folks, and was raiding birdfeaders in the area.
My parents live a few miles from the junction of Kelly Stand Rd. and the AT just south of Stratton Mtn in Vermont. They have had a bear wandering into their yard lately.

steve hiker
11-19-2003, 20:11
It was a chilly morning last November when I got my public health doctor’s release, picked up my pack, and hit the A.T. to see this Joisey goil I met a few months earlier. About 3 miles after I headed out, I heard someone coming up the trail behind me. Turns out it was this really cute gurl from Dumcannon with one sock on. We spoke briefly and I learned she'd be working, um I mean staying at, my shelter later that night. With thoughts of this gurl in my head, I wasn't paying as good attention to things as I should have.

Day dreaming as I hiked along in a light mist, I head a loud huffing noise off in the bushes to my left. My heart beat fast as I tried to make out what it was. As I cautiously moved back, with a flash and a large crash, a huge bear came tearing through the brush before me. Forgetting all my knowledge of proper bear behavior, I turned and fled like a chipmunk running from a rabid moose. In my haste, my foot caught a root in the trail and down I went, face first into a pile of horse poop. Covered in horse crap, I sobbed deeply and knew my lustful thoughts were to blame for all this misfortune.

But wait, I remembered I'd bought the special Backpacker-Rated #1 Bore-Tex baclava with the optional poop remover. Boy was I glad I did. Pressing a chip in the neck, the poop wicked away instantly. Then, remembering the reason I fell in the first place, I looked behind me just as the 1,000 lb bear lunged at me...."

(to be continued ........)

11-19-2003, 20:42
All good stories....

I've seen 3 bears this year. While walking the Limberlust Trail/SNP with my mom, we stopped for a second, facing each other. Then, mom's eyes got as big as plates as she said "We gotta go, there's a bear!" By her look and tone, I thought it was standing right behind me :bse getting ready to take my head off. Sooo, I didn't even look back, we just took a few steps and then I did a looksee and there was a big bear (300 lbs?) just 10 feet away on the other side of a huge hemlock that had died and fallen. It must have been there when we walked up. Sleeping perhaps. But, it started walking along very slowly looking on the ground and stopping to sniff every now and then. It didn't give a crap if we were there or not. I've taking mom on two hiking trips to SNP and both times we had close encounters with bears. She's a bear magnet.

Another time, climbing to Dragons Tooth from the south, Trout Creek, I stopped for lunch, heard a noise thinking it was deer. I froze to see what it was, a bee started flying around my head, I swatted at it with my hat and off it went down thru the woods, from the other side of a boulder that was in front of me. This one I didn't actually see but the only way I can describe the noise it made going thru the woods was if two sumo wrestlers were to race thru the woods. It must have been watching me trying to sit still, until I moved my hat.

The other time this year was on Tinker Mtn/Daleville. I've hiked up this mtn more times than I can count, never seeing a bear. This time I noticed some rocks overturned when I got up on the ridge. Coming down, right below the ridge I heard something in the brush. I walked slowly on down the trail and then a small bear took off. From the sound I could tell he didn't go far and he went right down to where I had to go, so I got my camera out and made sure the flash was on. It was almost dark and I thought for sure this would be a Kodak moment. I walked on down, went around a swithback and then I heard it again, right up ahead digging in the leaves. This time he was looking for me and bore down the mtn breaking limbs as he went.

Last year Hammock Hanger and I were almost to the Bald south of Wise Shelter/Mt Rogers. We were standing there taking a little break when she hollars "there's a bear!". I turn and just see the butt end going into the weeds. She watched it walk 10 feet behind me but she said she was so surprised that she couldn't speak at that moment.

Rain Man
11-20-2003, 00:25
All good stories........

Yes, all super stories so far. Thanks to ALL!!!!!

Rain Man

11-20-2003, 07:09
I had to tell my brother to stop walking. He was oblivious to the bear's presence!

I had to chuckle when i read this--my husband and I were walking in SNP late this summer when the same thing happened. I'm walking along in front of him, and somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I hear him calling my name and telling me to stop. When I finally realized he was talking to me, I stopped and turned around, and said "what?"...and then he looked at me and pointed to just in front of me, where a medium-ish sized bear was sitting, just off the trail, staring at me...I'd almost walked into her. Eeks. She was the most beautiful, coal black animal I'd ever seen, although I doubt that would've been my last thought if she were curling her canines around my head if I'd kept moving toward her, oblivious. I looked for just a moment, and then slowly backed up. She scooted off into the woods.

11-20-2003, 22:27
My younger brother and I tented just off the Trail in SNP, hanging our food about 40 yards down the Trail on a good high branch.

Something woke me up at 2 AM and I laid in my bag straining to catch a telltale sound. I kept thinking I heard something pacing, but couldn't be sure until a sizable rock was flipped. Now I was sure it was a bear. I shook my brother awake and told him I thought there was a bear out there, and he just replied, "Oh" and went back to sleep. I laid there for another 15 minutes or so until I couldn't take it anymore. I put my penlight in my mouth, pulled out the Swiss Army knife and metal spork, stepped out of the tent, and shone my puny flashlight on a black object about 50 feet away while clashing my knife and spork together with a mighty "tink, tink".

Needless to say, the bear wasn't very impressed. S/he swung around slowly, looked at me, then lazily sauntered off into the woods on the other side of the Trail. (What was I thinking????)

I scared up a bear during a day hike across Smarts Mountain in western New Hampshire this July. I never got a good look at him; he just took off in a big rush with a lot of noise.

11-21-2003, 00:15
while southbound in the 100mi wilderness in 2000. i was sitting in a tiny little clearing, eating my lunch when a dang bear walked out of the woods into my clearing. i was a little startled, as you can imagine, but he/she paid no attention at all to me or my lunch. rather he/she had an interest in some berry bushes. i think the only reason he/she noticed me was all the noise i was making trying to fetch my camera from my pack. happily, i did get a few nice pics. it surprised me to see a bear in maine cuz several maniacs told me i wouldn't likely. of course, i saw several bears in GA to VA, most notably in SNP.

11-21-2003, 00:36
I was eating my dinner beside a shelter in GSMNP and as I was scraping the last bit of food out my bowl, out of the corner of my eye I saw a black dog walking towards me. A voice in the back of my head whispered "That's not a dog!". I look up, and a relatively small bear, maybe 100 pounds, was walking slowly towards me about 50 feet away. Apparently the sound of my spoon scraping on the bowl was like a dinner bell for him. Once he gets too close, I clap my hands and make some noise, and he runs back a little, but not too concerned. I tell everyone else in the shelter to come check out the bear and they all came out to take a look. The bear was pretty curious, got up to around 20 feet away. Eventually he got bored and wandered off.

steve hiker
11-21-2003, 01:53
continued --

... my foot caught a root in the trail and down I went, face first into a pile of horse poop. Covered in horse crap, I sobbed deeply and knew my lustful thoughts were to blame for all this misfortune. Remembering the reason I fell in the first place, I looked behind me just as the 1,000 lb bear lunged at me...

The strangest thing happened at that moment. . . . . The bear, landing on all fours, straddled me and looked down, deep into my eyes, and said "I think you dropped this" and handed me my bag of snickers bars. I thanked him and nervously stood to my feet, still smelling like horse poop. As the bear walked off he said "Remember, only you can prevent forest fires."

Thinking my adventure was over, I started up the trail again, my heart still racing nervously from my encounter. Then I heard a voice from behind. "You should be more careful." I turned around and saw no one. Damn, I must be going crazy, I thought to myself. Just then I saw it...or rather them. Moving quickly among the giant trees, goblins, hundreds of them. "You need to come with us" one of them stated. I suddenly became entangled in vines and couldn't move. Then the goblins revealed themselves to me completely. They picked me up and carried me towards a cave. I don't remember anything from that point until....

(to be contined ...)

11-22-2003, 22:26
I was approaching the Ice Water Springs shelter on the AT years ago, and saw a bear rummaging around out front--about 50 yds. away-- about 1 second before he saw me. What happened is that I stepped on what was literally a twig that then snapped--what amazing hearing they've got!. The bear didn't miss a beat and charged directly at me, stopping maybe thirty feet away, standing up on his hind legs, and sniffing the air. He then waddled off.

I, of course, was petrified, particularly being only 18 at the time and hiking alone and so I waited on the trail for someone else to come. To my great embarrassment, a 75 yr. old couple from Knoxville wandered by, said they hiked up there all the time and that "the bears always do that", and laughed. I stayed close by all the way to the Newfound Gap parking lot. LOL!

Down around the Spence Field area of the Smokies, I've had a bear rear up about 20 feet off the trail and just look at me---I kept on walking.

I had to chase one off on the Mt. LeConte trail at Alum Cave Bluffs. My girlfriend had taken her pack off and was dining on smoked oysters, turned around, and a bear was in her face. She ran up the trail to get me, and I ran back, with the bear now dragging her pack off into the woods. I threw rocks at it and got the pack. It was a little one, the bear that is.

I've had them wander by at night while sleeping on the ground in Cades Cove.

That's about it for my bear stories.

01-25-2004, 14:54
On April 30, 2001 a hiker reported an aggressive bear at Abingdon Gap Shelter. A young black bear (approx. 250 lbs) wandered into the shelter area at dusk. He showed no signs of alarm in the presence of 15-20 hikers. He left the area just before dark and returned later, and spent the entire night roaming among the tents. He went into the shelter among the hikers and tore up a water bottle. He reached into a vestibule area of a hiker's tent and took his platypus bottle for a chew toy. Hikers tried to scare the bear away without success. The bear showed no fear.

(from Tennessee Eastman Hiking Club web site: http://www.tehcc.org)

01-25-2004, 19:24
Hard to imagine getting through the Shennies without at least one face to face bear encounter. My experiences were all very brief and uneventful. Generally the bear took one look at me and did a 180 into the woods. About the closest I came to a bear was on a day in Virginia when I started hiking very early in the morning. I was hiking along minding my own business when I heard a thundering sound coming from above my head. About the time I looked up this huge bear had slid down a tree and hit the ground about 4 - 5 feet in front of me. The bear's butt made contact with the ground and the earth shook. Without even looking back the bear shot like a bullet into the woods. The entire encounter took all of 25 - 30 (if that long) but definitely gave me a momentary elevation in heart rate.

I did know of one hiker from 2003 (HappyFeet) who got up close and personal with a bear in Virginia. The bear came toward him on the trail and wasn't about to turn away. He formed an "X" with his hiking poles and the bear actually came up to and pushed against the poles. HappyFeet stood his ground and eventually the bear backed away and walked into the woods.

01-25-2004, 22:32
Hey, Rain Man!

My two bear encounters, one close, one not:

I was near Burrel's Ford, walking uphill, in the dark. Zoning out, tired, not paying much attention, and heard the unmistakeable bass "woof" of a largeish bear. I shined the light in its direction, and heard my Grandfathers voice come out of me saying "Get on outta here!" in a loud, authoritative voice. Off he went, FAST.

Number two was not very close, but still cool. I was walking on a logging road in the Jocassee Gorges section of the foothills Trail. I was walking in the same direction as a very fresh set of bear tracks, and really digging it, I kept my ears and eyes open, but never did catch up to him. It was pretty neat, nevertheless.


Rain Man
02-19-2004, 14:56
Here's what happens when a hunter has an encounter with a "shadow," I suppose. A sad case of mistaken identity and a dead black bear who had been studied by scientists for several years.

All it took was one idiot to kill this animal (and give hunters generally a worse name than some already have).

"The man said he thought he was shooting a wild boar, for which he was carrying a license."

"A hunter cannot go out in the woods and shoot at shadows," [the State Attorney] said, adding that McQuiston's willingness to do so showed not only poor hunting ethic but a reckless disregard for his hunting companions."

What can you say, even with great hunters in the woods, you still have to watch out for the bad apples who shoot at anything that moves and asks questions later.

If it can happen in Florida, it can happen along the AT. Be careful out there, guys and gals. Check hunting seasons along the trail.



02-19-2004, 16:40
We were hiking the Jacks River trail last summer and I was first in line. I went around a bend and walla, there was a black bear walking towards a recently abandoned campsite.

Okay, I know you're not supposed to run or turn your back on a bear, so I turned and walked quickly (very quickly) back to where I just came from. When I reached a person, the word "bear" squeaked from my mouth.

The bear actually took off faster than I did, funny when I think about it now...it was a very LARGE bear, could have swallowed me in one gulp, but it was more afraid than I was. :D

02-19-2004, 23:01
I don't know exactly where it was in Virginia but I rounded a blind corner on the AT and there were two bears in the middle of the trail about 25 feet away. They took off like rockets and I tore after them trying to get my camera out and take a picture (what was I thinking, running after them?)

They scrambled up a steep hillside and hid in a thicket and all I could see were two pairs of eyes. I learned first hand that you can't outrun bears LOL and I guess it was a good thing it was me running after them and not the other way around. I never did get any pictures though, they were just too darn fast.... :(

09-06-2005, 13:22
A friend and I were fast packing from Newfound Gap to Davenport Gap in a day. We had already made it past Mt Guyot and Low Gap intersection. It was raining really hard and we had put our rainjackets on. With my hood over my head and hiking at a very fast pace, I was concentrating on the terrain at my feet and not looking too far ahead. I came around a sharp corner and actually ran IN TO a black bear, not close to, actually ran in to the bear. She had two cubs off the trail behind her about 10 feet away. I think she was just as startled as I was, she never heard me coming because of the rain and I never saw her until I was upon her. I stopped, slowly backtracked to tell my hiking partner that there was a bear around the corner. It wasn't until my hiking partner decided to take a look that the bear actually made any aggressive moves. She just thumped the ground a few times, a small growl and that was it. They ran in to the woods shortly after that. This bear was really small though, she barely came up past my knees. I wonder why when I ran in to her that she didn't show any aggression.

Rain Man
09-06-2005, 14:09
... I came around a sharp corner and actually ran IN TO a black bear, not close to, actually ran in to the bear. ...

Great report, and not one of those stupid "I have a friend whose first cousin's brother-in-law's grandpa's neighbor heard from a local that once a bear did such-and-such" scare stories.

THANKS for sharing!!!



09-06-2005, 15:21
I've seen several bears out in the woods, but only one on the AT. My girlfriend and I were hiking into Testnatee Gap in GA coming down off of cowrock mtn. a few years back, and were about a quarter mile from the gap hiking through head-high brush. We had noticed some game trails while switchbacking down the mtn., and the thought of a bear crossed my mind, but having never seen one, I brushed it off. I had the bright idea to be smart and tease my girlfriend at this point, saying "this would be a great place to see a bear...(chuckle chuckle)" referring to the high weeds and no visibility, when on cue a medium-sized bear came crashing through the brush, stopped on the trail about 10 feet in front of us, stared at us, and took off up the mountain. We took off in the opposite direction back to the trailhead, half scared to death. Apparently the person who said "You're lucky to see a bear in 10 years of hiking in the mtns." must be referring to people who don't hike very often. Seems like there are more and more bears around these days...:-?

09-06-2005, 15:29
I've seen a number of bear along the AT, but my best black bear encounter was a bit off trail. We were car camping in the Delaware Water Gap, and headed to the AT to for Sunfish Pond.

When we got back to the campsite I found my car window was broken, and the adreneline started pumping. First thing I checked was that no one had stollen our down bags (which represented a high percentage of my net worth at the time), then I got to thinking of the my wife's wallet under the front seat. We were in NJ, right?

Just about then, some neighboring campers came into the site and explained what had happened and I saw the ripped bag of marshmellows that I had left in the backseat. The rest of my food was in the trunk.

I felt so relieved that nothing was stollen, and had little concern for the bear. When she did come back she had two cubs in tow. They weren't all that near, until the Ranger came running afterthe bid one and chased her up a tree next to our campsite. The cubs scattered up two others. This was entertaining.

The Ranger left the cubs alone and concentrated on the mother. Since it had selected too small a tree, it couldn't climb uup much more than 15 or 20 feet. Perfect. Just the distance for the ranger to stand under it as he got out his mace.

At this point I was a bit more concerned, in part because our group included 2 small children. Never being one to keep my mouth shut, I suggested to the Ranger that he might want to back off, and let the bear go away. Of course he explained that the bear needed to be taught a lesson. This sort of made sense, but the bear didn't even flich as it was being sprayed.

The Ranger then got his firecracker tossing gun. He stood under the bear and shot directly up at her. What happened then? Well, the firecracker came down with gravity and expolded near the Ranger's head. Instinctively, the ranger reached for his service revolver. Just as instinctively, we thougth it best to put the 2 kids in the minivan. Probably should have done that earlier, but...

That was pretty much it. When the Ranger backed off, she ran away without her cubs. She came within sight about 5 minutes later, and the cubs worked up the courage to come down and run to her.

The three bears came back, but not to our camp site. Perhaps the Ranger did make a point. Everyone slept well that night, and its a good shared memory.

On the way home my eye's itched in the same way they do when I am around cats, but not sure if that was the bear dander or that of the skunk which (judging from the footprints on my hood) may have been in my backseat as well.

When going for a hike, I always lock ALL my extra food, and weeks-old Dunkin Donut wrappers in the trunk now.

09-06-2005, 16:16
I actually had a close call just this past weekend up around the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap. I turned a corner with some out of season blueberry bushes near Sunfish Pond. I must have come between two and three feet from the animal. We were both quite surprised to say the least!!! I jumped and he turned heel and ran off.
He could not have been more than 150-250 pounds, but was an imppressive sight none the less. This was definatly a memorable experiance and I am glad to have had it, but needless to say I was a little bit more hesitant on the next few bends in the trail. I saw some other bears along the way, but no more close encounters on this trip.
P.s., they are truly beautiful creatures!

09-06-2005, 16:19
Four Black Bear encounters.

1963 on a July 50 miler in the central SNP our main party of three senior scouts crested a ridge and found our point scout frozen still....he was 30-40 feet from a 350-450 pound black bear...we froze... the bear noted us , rose on hind legs roared, came down to all fours and immediately turned right and romped down from the ridge...yes, we were very relieved.

During a September 2003 thru of the SNP Smee and I had three bear encounters... all in the southern section...First, about 400 yards north of Loft Mountain camp ground we came upon a bear eating a deer...it was about 10 feet off the trail and immediately bounded further off the trail, behind a bush and watched us... we watched for about 2-3 minutes...at a point I had eye contact with the bear...announcing this fact to Smee we decided it was time to continue... we left, it returned to the deer.. looked to be 200-250 pounds, or so....Second, the next day we startled a bear on the trail that immediately went into a brush thicket adjacent to the trail and stopped... we listened and watched... after a minute it moved a few feet to the right.. we listened and looked some more, it moved right again... this occurred a third time and we figured he was circling us....soooo, we moved on...no further contact....no good look to estimate size, probably not over 200 pounds....Later the same day we startled a cub/yearling, about 80-90 pounds....he was tearing up a dead, decaying stump and eating the grubs or other bugs...since we were on a parallel section of trail that was contouring a ridge some 50 75 feet above us and we were below where the bear was The cub wenttook off up and over the ridge to disapear.

All of these encounters were in the SNP...Smee and I have observed bear at distances on three other occasions in the SNP...would not call them encounters.


09-06-2005, 18:37
About 45 minutes before dusk I saw something move on the Trail...

(From a personal black bear encounter of mine on the AT)
10-04-2004, 09:46

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/images/icons/icon1.gif What I saw move on the Trail..
About 30 yards ahead of me, what I later found out was no more than 0.75 miles from the Hawk Mountain shelter [hiking north], I saw a black bear race uphill from the Trail into the woods. It moved at a speed that I would compare to a human sprinter racing on the flat; this sucker hauled. I stood still for a few seconds, then slowly backed up about 40 yards, calling out and clapping at intervals as I went. (I had no firearm nor bear spray with me, and was alone.) The bear was running before I ever saw it.

The foliage was such that the bear could have stopped less than 40' uphill of the Trail, and I would not have known it. There were multiple downed trees whose larger/bottom ends were very dark brown (virtually black), and difficult to discern from a crouched-down black bear. I made the decision to bushwack in a large circle downslope of the Trail to try to avoid the bear. It took something over 20 minutes to get back to the trail this way. I did not tell I was back to the Trail until I was within 6' of it, it was that hard to see from below.

Several hundred yards past where I got back onto the Trail, I encountered a young (age ~20) couple filtering water from another 3' wide shallow stream. They told me the Hawk Mountain shelter was about 300 yards farther on, and that they were going to camp in the clearing about 50 yards shelter-wards of this stream we were chatting by. I told them in detail about my encounter, and had their complete attention. I waved off their offer of water (I had more than enough, remember), and went on to the shelter.

An older couple (man 50s, woman late 40s) and a man in his late 30s were already at the shelter. The single man was section-hiking the whole AT in GA, using his annual vacation to do so.

I hadn't been seated at the picnic table by the shelter for 10 minutes when the young couple hiked up, with all their equipment. After my tale, they had decided that crowds were attractive...:rolleyes:

The single man reported having a bear encounter that morning that was much closer than mine. He heard some noises early before leaving his tent, looked out the tent door, and saw a large black bear less than 15' away. He yelled and banged on his cooking pot, and it ran off. He was rather blase about the whole thing.

09-07-2005, 09:21
I've had several of the see-bear-from-60-feet-away-for-2-seconds-before-it-bolts-for-the-woods encounters. Mostly in the Smokies (off the AT).

I had one funny (well to me anyway) encouter in Western PA (on route to the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail). I had just stopped at the OH-PA "Welcome" rest stop to use the bathroom. In the welcome center they have a stuffed black bear. I laughed as I passed it, thinking I wouldn't see a bear in PA. I continued my road trip to the trail head. About 50' from the turn off to the trail head a rather large black bear ran across the road and continued up the gravel path to the trail head. He was no where to be found at the trailhead, but I'm sure it was nearby.

The closest, and most recent, encounter with bears (there were 2 or 3) occured a couple of months ago (July 2005) in Cranberry Wilderness, WV. I was walking East along the Middle Fork trail (the busiest trail in the Wilderness) about half way between Big Beechy Falls and the Laurelly Branch Trail. I hear a bear scream (sounded like a sick cow). I look up. About 60-70' away is a mother bear about 20' up a large tree. She looks a me for a moment, jumps (falls?) out of the tree and bolts up the hill (away from the creek). I believe one cub followed her, but I can't be sure. The mother stopped about 100 yds away (it was a wide open area with very little undergrowth) at the top of a small hill and paced back and forth.

One cub stayed at the base of the tree. I walked closer (now about 40' away) to the cub. It started to climb the tree. When it was about 15-20' up the tree, I was standing at the base of the tree. I took a picture, but it didn't turn out all that well (it was the last one on the roll).

The cub was quite small. Probably less than 15# (about 16-18" nose to butt). It stopped for a moment and continued to climb as high as it could. I talked to it for a few moments and then left.

09-07-2005, 13:40

Thanks for the story, but what you did wasn't wise. Mother bears are very protective of their cubs. If they think their cub is in danger, they will attack.

I hike often in Mt. Rainier National Park were there are lots of black bears. They are aggressive toward hikers only when the hikers get close to a cub. There have been several close calls when hikers have gotten too close to a cub.

My own experience has been consistent. A couple of years ago I was hiking on the west side of Mt. Rainier. Other hikers had told me that there was a mother bear with two cubs in the area, but I didn't know where they were. When I came around a bend in the trail, I frightened one of the cubs that was beside the trail. When it started squeeling, I heard the mother and realized that I was between the cub and its mother -- not a safe place to be. I retreated quickly -- (another way to say that I ran). My pictures weren't as good as I would have liked, but I survived.

Here is a link to a picture of bears on Mt. Rainier:


English Stu
09-07-2005, 14:25
About a year ago Tinker Mountain/Daleville I saw my one and only bear a one season cub ,seemed all legs and paws ,came down a tree very fast and ran off even faster in the opposite direction to me .Took my breath away and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.Heard lots of bear stories on the trail seems to me you stand big and don't mess with cameras and flash equipment.

09-07-2005, 15:19
Thanks for the story, but what you did wasn't wise. Mother bears are very protective of their cubs. If they think their cub is in danger, they will attack.It has always been my understanding that black bear mothers do not defend their cubs whereas brown bear mothers do.

Obviously, if you have them cornered, that's all together different.

09-07-2005, 15:31
This is a re-post from a week or so ago.....but its my bear story(s) of a lifetime....not one incident....but i figured seeing 12 bear in just 4 days in Shenandoah was worthy of re-posting....

Bear #1: cub coming out of a tree, next to skyline drive...only saw him for a glimpse....about 70 yards away....people nearby said earlier the cub was with another cub, and momma....but i only saw the 1 cub....

Bear #2: minutes later....adolescent bear entered trailhead at Piney Branch....we waited 10 minutes or so, since this was the route to the cabin....that bear saw us as he was entering the trail....but didnt give us the time of day....

Bear #3 & 4: both were up the same tree....medium size....also on the Piney Branch trail...same area as Bear #2....because we saw one here the day before.....we were clapping our hands every few paces to let them know we were coming through.......they heard our claps, and were about 30 yards away when they scurried down the tree.....ran off deeper into the woods

Bear #5: Piney Ridge Trail, about 1 mile south of Range View Cabin.....i snuck up on this one...unknowingly....made it aboue 10 yards away from the tree he was in....not even 5 yards off the trail....heard branches...looked up....saw the big black mass....and i quickly backed up about 10-20 yards as it slid down the tree, not turning my back to him.....once he landed, he gave me one good glimpse, and sprinted off into the woods

Bear #6: Where the AT meets Elkwallow Trail...within a stones throw of skyline drive......this bear either came across skyline drive, or was following behind us as were hiking elkwallow trail SB....was about 50 yards from us....we were standing still at the time...resting deciding whether or not to go to elkwallow wayside or not....we decided to go....this bear acted like we werent even around....just slowly walked down towards Jeremys Run.....

Bear #7 & 8: Momma bear and her cub....about a half hour after #6, on the AT just south of Range View Cabin....almost same area as bear #5.....saw these from a distance....100 yards or so....credit this sighting to my girlfriends excellent vision.....they never got closer.....

Bear #9: As we were leaving Range View Cabin, NB on the AT....30 yards off in the woods to the right....heard us talking and clapping....we watched it scurry down the tree and disappear...then seconds later, a big dear jumped out from the bushes to the left of us.....scared us to death.....thought it was another bear!!

Bears #10, 11 & 12: Minutes later....on the service road leading to Range View Cabin....almost in the parking lot of PATC office near MP 24(ish) on skyline.....small momma bear....trailside....15 yards away......we stopped and started talking to it......it wouldnt leave.....then after a few minutes went by....her TINY cubs ran out from behind her and crossed the trail....momma joined them and ran off.....

The Hog
09-08-2005, 06:21
I was filling my water bottle at Sand Spring in Pennsylvania when I heard a rustling in the leaves behind me. 'Probably a squirrel,' I thought, and continued filling the bottle. Then something made me stand up straight and turn around and there was a bear, who quickly rose up on his hind legs, facing me.

Just as quickly, the bear went down on all fours and accelerated away at an amazing clip. I didn't need any coffee for the rest of the day...

09-08-2005, 07:58
Bear was off in the woods about 50 yrds in front of us. He was sort of heading away as we approached.

09-08-2005, 08:18

09-18-2005, 00:03
I've had many bear encounters but here are the 2 most memorable:
1st. On the AT in Shenendoah NP July 1995. Woke up early one morning to a light drizzle (lots of rain in july 1995, we had 11 days in a row in VA) Took off by myself and was enjoying the trail alone when i came around a corner and saw a mother bear with her 2 young cubs (10 lbs each?) eating berries about 50 meters away. I stopped and watched them in the quiet drizzle and enjoyed their breakfast for about 40 seconds until Momma bear finally looked up and spotted me. She gave a snort and immedietly both cubs took off running. One went away from me but the other came right down the trail towards me. Mom didn't like that and so, came right along with him/her to protect her. Well, that got my blood pumpin but i remained calm and started talking fairly load and waving my arms a bit to try to scare the baby into the woods. Finally when it was about 10 meters away, the cub left the trail and climbed a tree. Well, Mom kept coming and finally stopped about 8 feet away from me, stood up on her hind legs and roared a warning to me. All this time, i'm trying not to show fear and yet trying not to show agression by continueing to talk saying things like: "i didn't do anything, just calm down, your babies are ok. At this time, the 1st cub started making noise like crying and mom went back to check on her but kept looking back to check me out. Well, i backed out of there very slowly but she wouldn't let me go so easy and once again came charging down the trail and again stopping about 8 feet away and stood up again and roared. Again she went back to check on no. 1 and that time i backed completely out of there and backtracked on the AT about a 1/4/ mile and then bushwhacked through the woods, out to the parkway where i made myself about a 3 mile detour and eventually rejoined the trail heading north again.

The 2nd bear encounter that i'll relate to here happened on the CDT in CO with a huge, old, papa brown bear. I was heading down a trail in the San Juan's just west of the "Window" near the Wiminuche Wilderness and was moving pretty fast enjoying the downhill. Well, Papa bear was sleeping right on the trail just on the other side of a blowdown. I didn't see him until the last second and jumped to the side and ran a few steps while he did the same. he took about 2 steps away from me, and then turned around and looked at me as if to say: "Why am i running away, i'm bigger than him" and turned around and took a step towards me when my hiking partner now came onto the scene and saw him looking agressive, and yelled "hey bear" really loud. Well that scared him enough that he ran away and the situation was over but my blook really was pumping as i thought i was done for or at least hurt bad as he was pissed!

Besides these 2 encounters, i've seen lots of bears including 11 in one morning in the fire creek pass area of the PCT in WA during berry season in the fall up there. as well as 5 or 6 grizzlies in GLP including one that we saw only about 30 metres away and got some good video of it that's in our video of that trip (triple crown attempt) that we showed at the gathering.

My good friend in northern Thailand near the Laos border found a very small baby cub this year and it has a white stripe across it's neck. He is raising it like a baby as it's guessed that it's Mother is dead and it's too young to make it without help. It should be interesting as he's a very very humble Bhuddist Monk and the little guy is already over his fear of people and plays with anyone who comes around.

the goat
09-18-2005, 12:43
have had many face to face black bear encounters on the AT in SNP, every time they have run away, even the sows with cubs. except one time when i had my dog trail running with me.....he got nasty at a big sow with two cubs the cubs went up a tree and she chased us down the AT until it dropped down to skyline drive by elkwallow, needless to say i almost crapped myself.

12-04-2005, 20:15
Does it count if you are not on the AT?
We live in Asheville, NC and there are bears everywhere here in the dowtown area. They just removed a cub from a yard downtown where he had been living for the past few weeks and was causing traffic to stop because he was so visible.
We work at the Grove PArk Inn and they are on the Golf Course a lot. But just a few weeks ago there was one hanging out in my backyard trying to get in the trash cans and we live a few blocks from downtown.
So I figure between that and the 5 foot snake that crawled off my roof this past summer I am somewhat seasoned to seeing wild animals but still have a terrible fear of snakes.
friend of mine lives right off the Blue Ridge Parkway here and bears and snakes are rampant. Of course when I visit its only the snakes that come out to play. LOL She thinks I attract them.
Wish me luck on the trail next Spring. I have been reading trail journals and looking at pics of snakes to identify them.
This website has been truly amazing for advice and inspiration. Thanks

12-04-2005, 20:24
I've had a few but the closest was eye to eye, less than a foot away.:eek: Had a huge elk almost step on me once, that was neat too:) Had a ....

12-05-2005, 10:03
Umm...Bear encounters on the AT...
I've had a few. The best one that comes to mind was in SNP..I was the first one on the trail that morning and it had just stopped raining....
I was be-bopping along and noticed a big bear print in the fresh mud on the trail....I bent over to look at it and in front of me on the left was a large Hemlock....well...the bear that made the print walked back onto the trail from behind the tree...maybe 5 feet in front of me...He or She was pretty big...the suprise was mutual...we looked at each other for a fraction of second and the bear ran up the trail....the neat thing that stands out in my mind was how fast the bear ran and how little sound it made as it ran.

12-05-2005, 10:37
Ok, this is from yesterday. Not a face to face, but a spooky bear encounter. I'll have photos tonight. I got on the trail at the Hwy 522 crossing in Chester Gap, VA. (this is north of the northern end of Shenandoah park, mostly private property). I hiked south to the Tom Floyd Wayside, ate lunch, and hiked back. I was alone for the entire day.

On the way back down the mountain (about 2:30 yesterday afternoon) I looked down into one of my old footprints from my hike in and there was a fresh bear print right in the middle of it (going in the same direction I had been going). Kind of freaky. Now, my wife pointed out that I had a nice big roast beef sandwich in my back pack. She rightly pointed out that I might as well have strapped a T-Bone to my ass and covered myself with honey. Anyways, that got my attention.

Gray Blazer
12-05-2005, 13:20
Two times I have walked up on bears, once in the Mount Pisgah Campground and the other right off the AT by Mt. Lecont. I mean I walked right up almost on top of them. Both times I figured I'd better put up a brave front so I started yelling at them and cursing them (They probably didn't realize a curse from anything, but it made me feel better). Both times the bears just looked at me as if to say, "You foolish human", turned around and sauntered off. Lucky me!

The Desperado
12-05-2005, 14:46
After having been a vol. on the trail for many ,many years & a seasonal ranger for the park service [in N.J.] I have had more than a few "bear encounters" , and quite a few "face to face". On a few occasions I was armed and on most not. I always had a knife and a wooden staff [old school] with me, but all encounters I had were o/k and never "went bad". I was always aware that they could though and NEVER let my guard down or became "acustom" to them. I did have a bear that tried to enter my cabin and had to shoot it with rubber buck shot to stop the entry though at one point some two-three years back. The local P.D. was called and they did a follow up on the incident. We have had many documented animal/pet attacks by bear in this area too.

Rain Man
12-05-2005, 16:20
After having been a vol. on the trail for many ,many years & a seasonal ranger for the park service [in N.J.] I have had more than a few "bear encounters" , and quite a few "face to face". ...

You see the AP news yesterday about the opening of "bear season" for hunters in NJ?


Open Season Starts on Black Bears in N.J.

VERNON, N.J. - New Jersey hunters take to the woods Monday for a controversial season aimed at thinning the state's growing population of black bears, whose hungry foraging has frightened suburban residents.

Up to 5,000 hunters were expected to take part in the six-day hunt — only the second in New Jersey in 35 years — which begins at sunrise Monday.

John Rogalo planned to set out with his 12-year-old son to hunt in Allamuchy Mountain State Park.

"It's a chance to harvest a bear," said Rogalo, 47, of Stanhope, a self-employed contractor. "I just view hunting as a family tradition. I started at 10 with my Dad. Now my son will be with me."

Black bears have rebounded from near extinction in the state but the loss of habitat to development is forcing many of the animals to seek food in populated areas.

The hunt, restricted to an area of about 1,600 square miles in the state's northwest corner, is expected to draw thousands of hunters armed with shotguns or old-fashioned muzzle-loading rifles.

The hunt has been sharply criticized by animal rights advocates, who call it inhumane and went to court Friday in an unsuccessful bid to stop it.

"This hunt is not rooted in public safety," said Janine Motta, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance, which sued to stop the hunt. "It's rooted in providing a hunting opportunity, getting trophies for walls and rugs for floors."

But hunters and the state say the hunt — which coincides with white-tailed deer season — is necessary, given the bears' increasing incursions into backyards and trash cans.

"Most guys will just go deer hunting, but if they see a bear and there's an opportunity, they'll take it," said Frank Dara, chairman of the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs. "It's basically a conservation thing. It's something that has to be done to control the number of bears."

The state's last bear hunt was in 2003, when 328 were killed. That was the first bear season since 1970, when hunts were suspended because the black bear population had dropped to about 100 animals.

Today, the population is estimated at 1,600 to 3,200 and complaints and sightings are up sharply all over the state.

Last July, a 142-pound female bear bit the leg of a sleeping camper at High Point State Park, in the state's still rural northwest corner. The camper's injuries were minor. The bear was shot by a state biologist.

A month earlier in Egg Harbor City, near Atlantic City in southern New Jersey, a 150-pound bruin rummaged through garbage cans, ate from bird feeders and jumped a fence a block from an elementary school during a weeklong stay.

Opponents of the bear hunt planned to gather at a weigh station in Wawayanda State Park, with teams also fanning out into the woods looking for bears that have been shot but not killed.

"It'll be volunteers looking to help any injured or wounded bears they come across, or fielding calls from the public for any wounded bears they find on their property," Motta said.

Jack Tarlin
12-05-2005, 16:30
There's another story today at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,177663,00.html

If you read the story, you'll see that the hunting is concentrated in an area very close to the Trail in NJ; if you're out hiking this week, be careful and wear lots of orange.

12-05-2005, 16:35
Rain Man--
Five years ago on the AT northbound from Catawba Mt toward McAfee knob, about 6 PM, late August, I heard what I took for the boots of an approaching hiker and hurried forward to meet him. Around the curve and what a surprise! Black bear, adult, alone, 50 feet away, and apparently just as embarrassed as I was as he quickly turned off the trail and down the mountain.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-05-2005, 17:04
A few on the AT andt plenty in & near the GSMNP. Most memorable was about 15 yrs ago. I was driving on a gravel road about 4 miles from the GSMNP and drove between a mother bear and two cubs - the cubs were in the roadway and she was behind me. She did charge the car, but stop short of actually making contact. I laid down on the horn and just eased off as soon as her cubs got out of my way.

This is the only time I have ever had a bear do anything other than run from me in probably 50 to 60 encounters.

Lion King
12-06-2005, 13:41
I'd like to hear from anyone who has had an actual personal face-to-face encounter with a bear on the AT. What was the situation? What happened?

I am NOT interested in hearing second-hand, word-of-mouth, rumors, "my brother's Scout Troop once upon a time...," statistics, I think a bear got my food bag, I think I heard a bear sniffing around in the dark, "I saw on TV" or "I read in a book," encounters OFF the trail, or similar kinds of stories. ONLY actual personal face-to-face encounters by YOU on the AT.

Did the bear see you and run away? Did it charge ferociously and rip your leg off? Did the two of you sit down and share a Snickers candy bar? What?


Rain Man

I have seen up close, no less then 20 bears in the years I have been hiking. Never had a probelm, a lot of them run, but what I noticed is if you see them before they see you and you chat with them...I swear I talk to them like they are dogs.."Good bear, what a good bear you are, yes you are a good bear!"
And they look at you like your crazy and go about their business.

I have been lucky to have most of them just eat and hang out and let me watch them, which is an awesome experiance.

Nothing comes clsoe to the very first time I saw one in the smokies in 98, but everytime it makes me happy.

This year just North of Groundhog creek (first of October before the Gathering) shelter I was going south back to Standing Bear Farm and I heard a ruslte off to my left...I look over and not more then 20 feet a very tiny cub is standing up with a paw on the trunk of a tree, he sniffs the air and looks at me...I noticed him, didnt stop but kept my eyes forward and moved on, a GIANT rush of branches erupted behind me and a Mother ran probally 50 feet behind me across the trail to the (not one, but two cubs who both barrelled up trees) she then went about fifty or so yards into trees, looked back toward me...non threatening but aware..that made me nervous because that meant I was in between them at some point, but I think it would have been worse if I would have stoped and stared the cub down, cuz Mommy would have been right behind me.

The onyl other 'clsoe call' I had was in the Shnnies. Right as you enter the park it was summer and hot and you know that climb where the ring of tractor chairs is? Right before that I stopped to dribnk water and wipe the sweat of my face, grabbed a blueberry or two off the vine beside my legs and heard a Very near "UMPHHH!"
I slowly looked back and a very large Cinnamon colored head was within touching distance of my legs...it huffed again and ran off...I almost crapped my shorts....but it made me hike a lot further that day.

12-06-2005, 14:42
I remember being in the Inn at Long Trail being poured a Long Trail Ale. Oh the golden-brown hew in a nice pint glass. Went well with the Guinness stew Oh wait..that's a BEER enocounter. Sorry... :)

My first bear encounter was on the AT. Like many people, saw a bear at the DWG/NJ area.

I was hiking with "Fool On The Hill" and we see a black bear ambling along ~50 feet away. It was my first bear in the wild. Quite cool..

My closest bear encounter was on the PCT. Was in N. California cooking my dinner. Typical for the PCT (and in the summer) I would cook dinnner and hike on 2-3 miles. As I am eating my Lipton's and Stovetop, saw a brown hump move through the bushes ~20 ft away. A few seconds later, see a face push throug the bush, maybe 10-15 ft away. The bear looked to be a yearling. It looked at me like a curious dog. I banged my pot, threw rocks. Still stayed there. I cautiously ate my dinner. The bear did not go away until I finished my food. When I finished it just non chalantly ambled away.

Wish I took a picture....but to be honest, did not know if my flash would startle it or not!

12-06-2005, 16:01
This happened over 30 years ago on a section hike in the Smokies, South of Gatlinburg. A group of scouts from my troop were doing 30 miles. We had shelter reservations for all but 1 night, so that night, we camped on a ridge just above the shelter. We go a fire going and were cooking our dinner. 3 or 4 of us were sitting around the fire and 1 scout was in his tent with his dad (he wasn't feeling well). This bear came up out of the woods behind Johnny. The other 3 of us, slowly start to get up and back away. Johnny looks at us funny and asks, "What? Do I have BO or somethin?" The bear got our pot of carrots off the fire and then rummaged through one of our packs (we did manage to get the pot back later). She put holes in one guys canteen and got our pudding mix. Dave's dad in the tent, had his sheath knife out and was ready to slice the back of the tent if momma stuck her nose in.

Well, you never saw a group of scouts break camp as quick as we did. We were down that hill and into the shelter. We ended up sleeping on the picnic tables! Momma walked by later with 2 cubs. Johnny was also our troop bugler and scared them of with a rendition of charge!:clap


12-07-2005, 00:37
It was at the end of a long day . We were staying at the War Spur shelter and my job was to get the water while madame laid out the sleeping bags and pads. The light was low and I was tired, not really paying a lot of attention to the trail. I heard something up ahead , looked, and said "damn, a dog". At that moment the dog stood up. Realizing I may have misidentified the beast, I executed the plan for what to do if confronted with a black bear. The bear remained standing and showed no concern over my attempts to look large and menacing. So I dropped my canteens, raised my hands to my mouth and began barking like a "damn dog", a black and tan to be specific. The bear made a single wuff , dropped to all fours and skedaddled. As the bear entered the woods I began baying . Never saw it again.

12-07-2005, 13:48
...and began barking like a "damn dog", a black and tan to be specific. The bear made a single wuff , dropped to all fours and skedaddled. As the bear entered the woods I began baying.I would have loved to get this on film!

12-07-2005, 21:36
I was solo section hiking in the area of Rausch Gap, PA. I woke up early that morning and packed up and skipped breakfast. About a mile down the trail I was noticing the how great the trail was and was getting into a rhythm with the world around me. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a handfull of candy corn (my favorite trail snack) while I rounded this corner with a large shrub/bush that blocked my view. I took a step around the bush and there in front of me no further than 20 feet was a LARGE black bear sitting on the trail, looking like he was waiting for me... three thoughts ran through my head in this order 1) OMG, I finally got to see a bear on the AT! 2) He is surely the most beautiful animal I have seen and is coat is black as night and gleaming in the morning sun 3) Oh, *****, I have a hand full of candy corn!!!

I stood there with this magnicant animal just 20 feet away what felt like hours looking at me and acting a bit bored, (looking back I would say 15 seconds total time) he stood up and grunted and turned off the trail and walked off into the underbrush.... as for me, I stood there for a while longer thinking of what an experience and it is exactly why I love solo hiking and backpacking in PA....

Master Chief

12-08-2005, 17:39
I was on a trail crew working on the Long Trail (right above Maine Junction so not actually on the AT) that had quite the run in with a black bear. It started with a missing bucket of gorp- we come back to our spike camp to find that a five-gallon plastic bucket full of gorp has been dragged a couple hundred meters up a hill and ripped open by something with claws...something with a taste for dried fruit (except for fake papaya, but I mean really, who would eat that?). Later that evening we suddenly see the bear looking in at camp from up on the hillside and give chase, complete with pots and pans, and it runs away. The story gets better- a few days later we come back from work to discover the bear in our "kitchen", digging through the garbage and eating our bread and tortillas! Our spike was pretty bombproofed- all food was in plastic buckets that I can barely open and garbage was not only double bagged but bungeed down in another bucket. Needless to say, we didn't continute to sleep at that site for very long...

12-10-2005, 00:10
I have seen/heard six bears on the AT. Four of them bolted into the woods instantly upon hearing me. They heard me first.

The fifth one (at Mohician Outdoor Center) was about 50 yards away on a hillside minding his own business.

The last one was more interesting. June 2003 arrived at the Culver Fire Tower in New Jersey. First tower in a long while that was climbable - hadn't been torn down or fenced off. First half way decent day in a long while, so I thought I might see some views.

There was a picnic table about 10 - 15 yards to one side, so I drop my pack on it and start climbing the tower. The stairs zigzag up. I am two flights up about to make the turn for the next set of stairs, when I look straight ahead and see a bear looking around the corner of the old dirt service road. And he/she is looking at the picnic table! I let out a holler, scrambled back down the stairs, ran over to the picnic table and grabbed my pack, with the bear just looking on. If it is possible for a bear to have a disgusted look on its face, then this one did. Then it just turned and faded into the brush.

Ever since then, when climbing a tower, I take my pack at least one flight up the stairs. I don't ever leave it at the bottom.

Pete Hoffman
"Old Corpus"

12-11-2005, 14:34
Back in 1981 I was at Spence field shelter. Two cute couples hiked up to spend the night there. They had brought steaks and were cooking them in front of the shelter. I decided that I would cook my freeze dried in the shelter. The shelter had the chain link fence. The steaks were really smelling good and about time they were ready a very large bear ambled in. They beat feet into the shelter and the bear had 4 steaks for supper. The bear then stood on his hind legs and pressed against the chain link. It was amazing to see the claws wrap around the fence. It pushed a couple of times and then walked off. Probably wanted to know why there were no potatoes with the steak.

12-13-2005, 11:00
When I was a kid, in around '63/64 the family spent some time car camping in GSMNP. In those days, garbage from each campsite went in regular old tin garbage cans. One per site. As you can imagine this was bear heaven.
There were bears everywhere. I remember in one day I saw 22.
Mostly at night, but even during the day, they would be raiding the cans and hauling their booty into the woods to feast.
When a bear appeared, the tourists (such as myself) would grab thier cameras and follow the bear down the road.
(I can't believe my mother let me do this!) I have an old b+w photo, a close up that I took myself, of the end of the bear that went over the mountain last, sticking out of a garbage can.
We had bears in the campsite lounging and munching on "snacks" once or twice.
And one night, while sleeping in the back of the station wagon, I was nose to nose with one peaking in the window.

12-15-2005, 22:08
During my 1999 thru-hike I was hiking with another hiker in NJ when we saw this big black bear walking on the trail ahead of us. HE saw us and took off running up the trail ahead of us. For some reason the bear decided that he was hiking in the wrong direction so he reversed his direction and started walking toward us. We kept on walking toward him trying not to show any fear and trying not to look directly into his eyes. I love to sing praises to the Lord when I am hiking, but this time there were no praises in my lips, the only thing coming from my lips was "GOD SAVE US". We did not have a clue what we were going to do if the bear decided to attack us. He was about 15 feet from us when he decided that our guardian Angel was more powerful than him so he took off down the mountain. That night I wrote in my journal that I was glad I was wearing dark shorts that day because.......

12-16-2005, 00:49
Several years ago I had went to Spence Field Shelter for a night and then back to Cades Cove. The next morning I was heading down Bout Mtn Trail and as I came around a turn there was a black bear. I remember him being huge and when he stood up he had three folds of fat that moved with him.

When he stood up in front of me I said "Oh, S$#@", the bear made a noise and I have no doubt that it was bear talk for "Oh, S&^%". Both of us backed up and he then went down the mtn and I never saw him again.

I have to say that I was very scared because I had my garbage hanging off my backpack and I smelled pretty bad. I had a bell on my walking stick to so it came off when I got home. Did not scare the bear just told him that a snack was coming "Round the bend"

12-16-2005, 01:13
I'd like to hear from anyone who has had an actual personal face-to-face encounter with a bear on the AT. What was the situation? What happened?

I am NOT interested in hearing second-hand, word-of-mouth, rumors, "my brother's Scout Troop once upon a time...," statistics, I think a bear got my food bag, I think I heard a bear sniffing around in the dark, "I saw on TV" or "I read in a book," encounters OFF the trail, or similar kinds of stories. ONLY actual personal face-to-face encounters by YOU on the AT.

Did the bear see you and run away? Did it charge ferociously and rip your leg off? Did the two of you sit down and share a Snickers candy bar? What?


Rain Man
One time I was hiking along and got a sort of hair-raising feeling and looked to the side a bit and a bear was clinging to a tree a couple of feet away... I think trying to hide from me. When he realized I saw him he ran off, I didn't yell or anything, very quiet encounter...

12-20-2005, 16:03
I had never seen a bear in the wild until last month in the Smokies. My buddy and I were doing a loop from Fontana up the AT to Silers Bald, then side trails back to the dam.

Within an hour of leaving Fontana we had run into three bears! (I thought... geez, we're out here for 4 days. If we see 3 bears an hour then we should see 60+ bears this trip! :-? )

The first one was early on the climb up to Shuckstack Mtn. My friend and I stopped dead in our tracks when we spotted a HUGE male about 75-100 feet in front of us. He casually glanced around at us, stared for a minute or two and then walked into woods. I was so stunned I forgot to take a picture while we was posing for us. DOH!

About 20 minutes later we were hiking when we heard a racket, turned around in time to see a cub sliding down a tree we had just hiked past and run off into the woods. Never saw mama.

20 minutes after that we ran into a dayhiker coming south on the trail. He said there was a bear up a tree about 2 minutes behind him. He then told us he wasn't sure what you are supposed to do when you see a bear, so he climbed a tree himself and stayed there for about 10 mins!! It was all I could do not to laugh... I wonder what the bear thought: He climbed a tree to get away from someone and the crazy human climbed another tree nearby! :D

We hiked up the trail and sure enough he was still in the tree, sitting on a branch waiting for us hikers to go on by.


12-21-2005, 10:45
Just putting in my two cents. I have been tracking bears for many years. I enjoy watching them do their thing. In general Black bears are the more docile of the breed. Along the AT you may encounter black bears. What I do upon sight is I think first and react second.

1. How far away is the bear
2. Does it appear distressed with my presence. If distressed it may paw at the ground, swing its head and perhaps grunt. Sometimes they will stand up so they can get a better scent of what is in their territory. If the bear appears distressed, do not close the distance even to get past the bear. Back away until you know you are not being followed and wait until others have caught up to you and pass that area in a group. In general Black bears don't mess with people in numbers.
3. Is it a mama with cubs. If so where are the cubs try to spot them so that you won't pass between the mama and cubs.

Believe me the bear knows you are there. If it looks up at you then continues on with what it may have been doing such as digging for grubs then by all means pull out your camera and shoot away at the distance you are standing. Do so quickly and Don't close the distance for a better shot. If you are alone talk outloud to yourself to remind the bear that you are a human, not wildlife. Stay on the trail and quietly pass as long as you are not closing the space between you and the bear. Do not run, repeat, do not run walk a steady pace. It will more than likely raise its head and watch you walk away. When you are no longer able to see the bear in front of you check your footing and back away from the bear until you are safely away from the bear and positive that you are not being followed. If you feel less than safe make noise. Lots of noise, the louder the better. Remember you are carrying food, the bear knows you are carrying food and in the spring they are very hungry. If by chance it wants your food, your pack or anything else let the bear have it and get out.

Keep each bear incident separate. Just because one bear let you pass through its territory without incident doesn't mean the next one will.

12-21-2005, 14:28
Back in the mid '70s a buddy and I had just finished a day hiking in N.H's White Mountains. As was the custom we headed straight into town for a case of beer.
Some of you may be familiar with Clark's Trading Post and Trained Bears in Lincoln.
Well on the way by we noticed that the place was closed up tight but the bears were still out.
At Clark's the bears would sit out on platforms high atop phone poles. There was a pulley system were you could buy some bear chow, place it in the can on the pulley rope, and the bear could haul it up and chow down.
Well we decided that the bear needed some thing to wash down his bear chow, and seeing that we had more than enough beer......

Bears are pigs when it comes to beer. That bear would drain that pint bottle in one pull, smash the bottle to the ground and want another.
With all that noise of smashing bottles and wanting to save some beer for ourselves, we soon headed back up the road.:cool:

03-24-2006, 14:09
Hey, :)

This is my first post of many I hope to do. I now have a little bit o time to be able to participate in these forums. Anyhow

I will share one experience of many I have had on the AT. In Shenendoah NP in Aug 1985 I had convinced a couple of friends of mine to do the AT in SNP. With us, much to my disagreement was one of my friends wives (not that I am anti wife or GF but read on). This woman was a scent hound, worked in a dept store fragrance counter and on the side sold fragrances for companies she linked up to like Avon . My feelings towards that (perfume) on the trail is that they are a bad mix.

Well, here we are after chow hanging the bear bags and I am insisting the perfume she brought (and shouldnt have) should all go up the pole. She apparently did this but didnt think anything about her "night wash" or whatever she called it.

About 3am my hicker senses came alive :sun as I hear the lumbering movements of what I am thinking is a big bear in camp. It turned out to be two of lesser size. They were both within I would say 10 feet of my friend with the tourist wife tent. I watched through the mesh of my tent what they were doing. I unzipped and one of the bears, instead of running away did a mock charge in front of my tent (or maybe he ran the wrong way ) . I just let out my best blood curdling scream and reached my hiking stick and raised it like an insane caveman.

They ran away and the people come out of their tents only to see me in a t shirt and trunks with stink in hand. Of course some had awakened to hear my screamming but apparently no one else heard the bears.

After the trip is when I find out about all the stuff she brought that NEVER went up the pole. She didnt like the trip that much and was going to go on a trip out west where it would be better. If I remember right (after her not listening to anything about the trail or the wilds I wopuld inpart on them), I told her "oh well you can take all the smelly stuff you want out there, nothing will bother you " ;)

Lost touch through the years with those folks, hopefully, if she ever did get out there to hike, they read up on grizzlies.

Dances with Mice
03-24-2006, 15:35
....They ran away and the people come out of their tents only to see me in a t shirt and trunks with stink in hand. Don't feel bad. That's exactly what many people would have on their hands after a bear charged them...

Big Dawg
03-24-2006, 15:41
Hey, :)

This is my first post ........

:welcome to WhiteBlaze, Hiker7s!!


03-24-2006, 20:52
I had some socks drying on the toolbox there (10 days of hiking on them) and he ate one of them, which I thought rather funny.

Good story. Are you headed to the big REI sale tomorrow in Tacoma? If so, I may see you there.

I noticed that you live in Lakewood. I live in Gig Harbor, Wa.

09-02-2006, 20:42
These stories are great. I tell you, that bear suit was worth every penny.

09-02-2006, 21:09
A few weeks ago while hiking from Hog Pen Gap to Neels Gap I passed a bear drinking out of the spring that is judt off the trail (I think it is Rock Spring at mile 33.3). Anyway, I was headed South and the spring was just off the trail to the right about 30-40 feet. I was hiking slowly and thinking about watering up at the next spot before Neels Gap (it was like 200* out that day...) and as I moved along, there was yogi - drinking from the spring. I stopped and just looked at him. He (and I assume it was a he - I can not tell them apart) just drank for want seemed like forever. I have no idea how long I stood there - maybe 30 seconds, maybe a couple of minutes - but then he looked up, blinked, and then dropped his head and drank some more. I slowly moved along the left side of the trail being a quiet as I could and then continued south.

Looking back, I figure the bear was bigger than a cub, but no where near full grown. He seemed pretty skinny and I am glad he did not decide to use me to fatten himself up. I thought about all the threads on what to do with a bear encounter - but not until I was about 200 yards up the trail. I suppose every encounter is different - I am glad mine was peaceful. I assume it will be the closest I get to a bear without bars between us!

09-08-2006, 11:33
My friend Thomas and I were hiking on Wednesday, Sept 6, on the Roan Mt bald in Tennessee where we had a run in with a bear. Thomas is a quite guy and he don't say too much but I'm always talking. I laughingly said "I wonder if thats a dog or a bear up there." He turned to me looked and said "dog I hope." So we proceeded forward till the animal turned and began walking our way. His next words were "Oh god its a bear!" My next thought and action was that this would be the best picture shots ever so I started digging for my camera. Its ears stood straight up as it looked at us and I could see the glare in its eyes. It also appeared to be shaped more like a male according to my research and it was also quite skinny for this time of year. By this time we were about 50yrds from the animal. To my dismay before I could get out my camera and the darn thing ran off into the woods. We still had to walk past where the bear stood which didn't set well with Thomas. This was my first bear sighting and I'll never forget it, I really enjoyed it and I'm more interested in bears than I ever was. My aunt with the U.S. Park Service sent me this e-mail the day after our sighting...

Begin forwarded message:

Subject: Bear Activity Advisory News Release

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
News Release

Immediate Release Contact: Bob

Date: September 7, 2006 865/436-1207

Smokies Officials Expect Higher than Usual Black Bear Activity

Managers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park are bracing for a

higher-than-normal level of bear activity this fall and are warning Park

visitors and neighbors to be especially careful about how they protect

their food and garbage from attracting bears.

Park Wildlife Biologist Kim DeLozier expects bears to be

especially active and persistent in seeking food this fall because of a

combination of limited natural food sources and higher bear numbers than

in previous years.

According to DeLozier, “There are several general indications that

our bears are currently very hungry and unable to locate much natural

food: First it appears that many bears are already in poor body

condition, especially those females with cubs. Secondly, the

preliminary results of our annual survey of acorns and other “hard mast”

indicate that this year does not appear very positive for acorn

production. Several areas surveyed showed no acorns at all and others

were very sparse. Mid-summer soft mast (berries) production appeared

to be off this year as well.”

Combined with a scarcity of natural food, two Park bear population

survey methods indicate that bear numbers are up. “Our bear bait-station

survey, conducted in July, was the highest visitation rate ever recorded

for the survey and the first time visitation rates reached the 80

percentile.” DeLozier explained, “The overall percent visitation

increased from 72.8% in 2005 to 80.1% in 2006. Lastly, the University

of Tennessee bear researchers captured a significantly higher number of

bears this summer in comparison to the past few years.”


Bear Activity Advisory – page 2

Park managers say that avoiding bear problems always starts with

keeping food and garbage away from bears. Inside the Park visitors are

provided with bear-proof dumpsters in developed areas and with

bear-proof cable systems to suspend food in backcountry areas.

Neighbors outside the Park are advised to keep garbage secured until

trash collection day, to keep pet food indoors and to stop putting bird

feed out until winter when bears go into hibernation.

DeLozier continued, “We are advising visitors that certain bears

may be extremely bold in attempting to get food and are providing advice

on how to respond to bear encounters while hiking. We always tell

visitors to keep their distance from bears in any situation and, that if

the animal changes its behavior, e.g. stops feeding or changes

directions, you are too close. Being too close may also prompt

threatening behavior from the bear such as making short runs toward you,

making loud noises or slapping the ground. In this instance the bear

usually just wants space so back away slowly while watching the bear,

but don’t turn and run as this can trigger the bear to chase you.”

“But if a bear persists in following you closely or approaches you

without vocalizing or paw swatting,” DeLozier said, “try changing

direction. If it continues, stand your ground, yell loudly and act

aggressively by waving your arms or throwing rocks or sticks at it. Pick

up a stout stick as a deterrent. If you are with others clump together

to appear more formidable. But don’t leave food as this often will make

the bear more persistent and encourages it to approach other hikers

hoping for handouts. If a bear indicates that it is after your food and

you’re physically attacked, separate yourself from your food and back

away slowly.

In the extremely rare case where the bear shows no interest in

your food and you are attacked fight back, do not play dead.”

In order to protect future visitors from problem bears, Park

managers ask that visitors report any bear activity observed in a

campground or picnic area and any aggressive bears in the backcountry to

a Park Ranger. Bears observed feeding normally on natural food sources

should be given a wide berth but need not be reported.

Problem bear activity in surrounding communities is managed by

state wildlife agencies that can be contacted through local municipal

law enforcement authorities.

* * * NPS * * *

09-08-2006, 13:06
Last year, on the AT in NJ, I came up fast around a corner upon the BIGGEST BEAR I HAD EVER SEEN ! I have seen bigger stuffed bears... Anyway I about ran into it .. I ran off about 10 to 20 yards and looked at me the way my dog does in the kitchen, with that slightly mournful hungry look.. We stared at each other for a while, I began clacking my poles together over my head and there was no response from the bear.. I moved on at a quick pace down the trail.. Jelly Bean later told me she saw the same bear.. the biggest bear she had ever seen... maybe 500-600 lbs ...

09-08-2006, 13:12
I'm "Johnny" that txulrich refered to previously. She was soo close I could have kissed her,but I was busy eating. We looked at eachother for a few seconds that seemed like half an hour,but she just ignored me like most women did back then and took our peas and carrots. Leson learned... they dont want you, they want your food. Also dont listed to any ultralight purest, take whatever you want, your the one carrying it. You never know when you will need a bugle!

09-08-2006, 13:56
I had my first face to face with a bear last Saturday between Standing Bear and Hot Springs. It happened about one mile south of Brown Gap. I was hiking north, and hit a blind switchback, about 100-150 feet in front of me was an approx 80-100 lb. black bear cub, sitting right in the middle of the trail. I froze and did the comic book turn and look over my right shoulder and then my left shoulder to see if momma bear was behind me. Fortunately not.

The cub looked up at me fo rabout 15-20 seconds then continued eating. After finishing eating, it looked back up at me for another 15-20 seconds, at that point, it stood up and marched into the woods. I waited another 5 minutes, then did a couple of loud bear calls, and proceed north. I spent the rest of that day and most of the next, every 30 seconds or so, or whenever I came upon a blind switchback or a densely overgrown section of trail calling out to let "whatever" know that I was coming.

I was never really scared, just completely thrilled to have actually seen a bear. It does a lot to realize that maybe, just maybe we are not at the apex of the food chain 100% of the time.

09-10-2006, 01:04
A friend and I were on a photography and brook-trout fishing trip in Michigan's UP when we had a bear scare. It was about an hour before dusk and I was cleaning our catch when a bear came into the clearing. The bear didn't so much charge as just walk strait towards us like he was ready for a nice trout dinner. My friend was between the bear and myself. It was too late to back away and there was no room to throw away food and bolt, so he just flipped his closed tripod upside down, grabbed it above the camera and swatted the bear right across his nose with the tripod.
It was hilarious. The bear jumped back and bolted away about ten yards then just slowed down and sulked away slow and depressed like we hurt his feelings.