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  1. #1
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    Default Beary cool bears @ Wolf Laurel Top

    Was camped at Wolf Laurel Top Saturday (~1/2-way between Neel & Hogpen). Lazy Sunday morning, saw a half-dozen hikers- spoke to two. Just taking it easy and trying to finish a book so I was getting a pretty late start.

    So, finally got my pack on at 9:45 and I'm doing a 360 to make sure I have everything and I think, "Let's check out the view one more time before heading out..."

    I turn around and 15 yards from me, 5 feet from the rock most people stand on to take a picture is a bear. He's propped up on his back legs, behind a bush, staring at me. I'm dumbstruck.

    He must have cast some kind of ancient ursine spell on me because I was frozen. I wasn't scared because I didn't have time to get scared. I was just good old-fashioned dumbstruck.

    We just stand there for about 5 seconds looking at each other, he blinks once (we were that close!), then he very slowly twists to his left and goes down on all fours, and starts moseying away.

    You could have knocked me over with a feather. So, now my brain starts to process messages again and I think, "...Okay, this is where you start to backpedal and motor down the trail".

    But I backpedal at a 45 degree angle because I want to intersect with the little trail he's on because I just have to see him one more time. When I get there sure enough- there's his big-bear-butt slowly heading off...but, lo and behold- another bear ahead of him that I never saw pops her head up (and stands on her back legs) and looks at me for about 5 seconds. He's kind of waiting on her to get an eyeful- then she goes back down on her front legs and they both head off.

    It then occurs to me that someone should be taking pictures. Then I realize that person must be me. So I grab the iphone from my ribz pack and unlock it successfully on the first attempt which was amazing in and of itself because I was a bit excited.

    The picture's no good, but the first bear is in there just northeast of the center. His ears and nose can be made out...he's kinda looking to his left.

    I was completely amazed at how close he got to me. Literally 15 yards, no embellishment there. If this same thing would have happened at say...40 or 50 yards, I'd (probably) not bother to mention it.

    I'm pretty quiet by nature- but I don't think he was unaware of my presence, which would seem to defy what we think we know about their olfactory sense. After thinking about it, I've resolved he was just a slightly bold, curious bear?

    Hiked back to Woody Gap in a euphoric state.

    (I regard Wolf Laurel Top as a rarely used campsite. No water and thick, long grass everywhere anyone would put a tent. Also, my gender specific pronouns above are purely guesses, to me they seemed like brother and sister...of course I have no idea. They seemed to be healthy to my untrained eye- they weren't the least bit scrawny. I'd reckon they were 30 pounds or so above "slender".)

    Interesting tidbit: the book I finished that morning was written by Ursula K. Le Guin. What a coincidence!

    hikers gonna hike

  2. #2
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    Lurkerville, East Tn
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    I saw a bear cub on Saturday. Went on a dayhike in the Smokies with daughter and her family, which includes two young children. Some hikers on their way out had told us there was a mother and two cubs near an old cemetery, which is about a half-mile from our destination (remains of a stone house off the trail). By the time we got there, it was at least an hour later. As we approached the intersection, a little bear ambles across our path about 75' away. Standing still, I'm thinking, oh wow, how neat, I wonder where the mom and the other cub are. I'm so glad I got a chance to see it. My daughter, who was in the front with me, jumped, scurried backwards (not running, but definitely in retreat), and pleaded with me to come back as she continues her retreat. I tried to reason with her that she was over-reacting out of fear, but she was certain that she and her children were in imminent danger. Sigh.

    You're right, it's a bad picture, but at least you got one.

  3. #3


    Most of my bear encounters have been like this: calm and respectful, many with eye contact. Very nice that you had a similar experience.

  4. #4
    Registered User cneill13's Avatar
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    Atlanta, GA


    I had my first "head light" encounter with a bear this past weekend at Panthertown Valley, just outside of Cashiers, NC.

    I was camping by myself in a very nice campsite and had a healthy fire rolling. It was around 10 pm.

    I sensed something watching me and turned around shining my headlight in that direction.

    Shining back at me were two red eyes about 3 feet off the ground and just out of the headlight range. I am guessing it was a bear but couldn't see the body, only two red eyes.

    I really wasn't afraid at all and we just stood there looking at one another. I slowly walked over to the tree where I hang my knife and grabbed it with my left hand (not that a 3" blade would do my any good) while also picking up a rock with my right hand.

    Then in a calm voice I said, "What's going on Mr. Bear?" and the eyes disappeared. It is amazing to me how silently such a big animal can run.

    Black bears are to be respected but not feared. They are really just big raccoons checking out who is sleeping in their house.


  5. #5


    Ive seen a big bear there before. It was about a year ago. It showed no signs of fear of humans. I left promptly

    Apparently there is a resident bear in the area that has gotten hikers food before. I would be vigilant thru there.

  6. #6
    Registered User FatMan's Avatar
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    Grassy Gap - AT


    Great encounter. Wolf Laurel Top is known for all sorts of wildlife encounters...bears, boars, and coyotes. Nice camping area though.

  7. #7
    Registered User canoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Tyner, NC


    Along with Blackrock shelter in SNP

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