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  1. #1
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    Default (Video) Bear encounter on AT (Va)

    Hi all, I'm Paw and I just wanted to share some video footage of a bear encounter that I had in 2018 in VA during an attempted thru. (970 miles and I'm starting over in 2019!) I'm posting this mostly for newcomers of the AT who have concerns of bear encounters. And the point that it makes hopefully, is that it isn't always what your imagination tries to tell you. I saw my first 2 bears about 15min into the smokies, 2 young ones, and one of them couldn't slide down the tree fast enough to get away. And I can tell you that I was so happy, that it literally brought tears to my eyes. It felt like such a gift to have that first. And by the time of this video, I had already seen a total of 14 and all of them couldn't run away fast enough. Until the one in this video.. lol And if you read the description box, you'll see what lessons I learned from the experience. I'm sure others will want to critique me, but I'm not really interested in hearing it. They were my judgement calls and that's all I have to say about any critiques. The one thing I'll say is that you can't tell by my tone of voice or words how my mind was actually reading the situation. It was a beautiful experience, but let there be no doubts that I recognized them as wild animals that have the ability to cause bodily harm or worse. And I only made one main attempt with a raised voice to see if that would encourage the bear to leave and would not have continued that course of action further. I probably would have pulled back a bit and just waited. And then, the little "surprise" came into view... Enjoy...

    Bear video...
    https://youtu.be/kELMy9SBfFk

  2. #2
    Registered User Christoph's Avatar
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    As I've had a few close bear encounters (one within <25 feet!) .... I can say, you did the EXACT right thing and kept your calm, spoke in a non aggressive form, and did not attempt to get the greatest Facebook Vid ever by agitating them. That was a close one, but everyone was calm. In my experiences, calm is key. You did right, and nobody got hurt. Love this video!
    - Trail name: Thumper

  3. #3
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    Thanks brother. I'm glad you enjoyed it! The closest encounter I had on that hike was a very small fawn bounced over to me, so close I could pet it, (but didnt). It made some cute sound and then bounced back to its mom. MADE MY DAY! I much prefer those types. lol

  4. #4
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Nice job. We've had a couple of similar encounters with bears who just don't want to move - usually because it's hot, and they're wearing a fur coat. So I get that.

    Momma bear looked awfully skinny.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

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    Nice, thanks for sharing.

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    Thank you. I'm glad you guys enjoyed it. As far as mama looking skinny, I can tell you that she looked plenty big enough to me at the time. lol

  7. #7
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    I had a similar encounter in April just outside the N boundary of GSMNP. I had been warned of a bear ahead, didn't see one and let my guard down. Came with about 20' of a tree directly next to the trail when me and a really big bear both startled each other. It huffed then climbed up the tree, then came back down and just looked at me. Any attempts at making noise didn't work. So I backed off really far, gave it 10 minutes, and it still wouldn't move. I began to wonder if this thing was sizing me up. I made one more attempt at noise to no avail. So I decided to bushwack over a small ridge and met the trail on the other side of it. I was taking a break a few hours later when some other hikers came up on me and told me about the bear next to the trail...and that it was a mama bear with a cub up the tree. Then it all made sense. That was the only bear I've encountered that I didn't get a good look at its a$$.

    It also hit home that had this been Grizzly country, I might not be here today.
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    Nice job. We've had a couple of similar encounters with bears who just don't want to move - usually because it's hot, and they're wearing a fur coat. So I get that.
    This was at noon on a hot day in June about 10 minutes north of Thornton Gap in SNP. I don't have a video, but if I did it would look just like this still picture as the bear never moved. I came around a corner and this bear (I call him Thornton) had his butt parked right on the middle of the trail. He looked over his shoulder, stuck his nose in the air, and then just sat there. He didn't even bother turning around. When it became clear that he was not moving, I decided I had to walk around him. This area was rather flat and open (like the video in the OP), so I just bushwhacked a semi circle coming back to the trail maybe 25 yards past him. At least when I came around in front of him, he didn't have to look over his shoulder. This one is not so skinny.

    IMG_7435.JPG IMG_7436.JPG

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    Yeah, JPritch, what I definitely took away from that experience is that a hesitant bear could possibly be hesitant due to a cub(s) that are out of my view... Or the other way around... I remember one day, I decided to just hike till I couldn't hike any further and I was proud that I did 41.6 miles to Cherry Gap Shelter. (But took 24hrs to do it. lol) Anyway, it obviously included a full night of hiking and my headlamp stayed mostly toward the ground to keep from tripping. It was around 4am and was foggy and windy and I happen to look up and see a set of eyes looking at me. As I went to click my spotlight, I was truly hoping that it was only a deer, but also, the spotlight revealed a cub and right then, another set of eyes in a tree revealed another cub. I spent only about 2 seconds scanning for mama and with no other glowing eyes, I calmly got the hell out of dodge. lol For the next 10 minutes I would scan behind myself every 20 seconds... I think seeing the cubs but NOT mama was scarier than seeing the cub WITH mama. And being the middle of the night certainly didn't help matters. But good times! I think? lol

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    Odd Man Out, I would DEFINITELY take a wide path around that one! And it would probably be more like 100 yards for me. lol

  11. #11
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    Very nice! Thanks for sharing Paw.
    I had very similar encounter in Ocala National forest. I had set up near a pond and started dinner when mama and cub walked out of the woods edge to have a drink of water. My only concern as I watched was I had just opened a foil pack of salmon. But they just took a casual look at me, drank and were then back into the woods.

  12. #12
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    Ah SoFlo, My family has land just outside of Ocala on a river and Ocala Natl Forest is just down the road from there. I usually stay at the river house when visiting, but plan to camp on the natl forest when I visit again in a few months. I've never seen a bear in that area, but I know that they're there. I've always wondered if there's a difference between them and AT bears, considering the AT bears get more exposure to hikers. I would think at least... And salmon? Good lord, that just sounds like asking for trouble! "Bear crack anyone?" lol

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