The morning was crisp, but the sun was rising and I could feel the heat of the day poised to take over. I was happy the really tough part of the hike was over and we were in the foothills on a serpentine path overlooking the valley. The incline was slight now and my dog Luke and I were enjoying looking across the ravine, listening to the birds and enjoying being the only ones on the path. It would fill with hikers and bikers soon enough.
We rounded a bend in the trail and heard a crashing noise coming from across the next ravine. There was a bear trying to climb straight through the chaparral up the side of the hill. I hadn’t seen a bear on a hike before so we stopped and watched his lack of progress. Wow! I was so excited and not a little nervous even though he was far away. I called my husband to brag – I saw a bear! It was moving a lot and there were bushes in my line of sight so I had to keep moving to watch. Finally, realizing he couldn’t pass, he went back to the trail and started walking to the bend in the hill, basically towards us. I called my husband again, what do I do? He was walking on dirt with big silent paws and I couldn’t follow his progress as easily. I wasn’t done with my hike and was hoping he would find another spot to climb the hill. We waited, then slowly and quietly slunk forward. I didn’t want to startle him.
I couldn’t see him anymore and we slowly moved forward until suddenly, not 100 yards in front of me he appeared. I stopped, picked up my hand and waved, and in a sing song type voice said “Hi bear.” (I am very brilliant in a pressure situation, I know).
We heard crashing and fumbling and generally a lot of noise as he tried to force his huge body in the bushes to get away from the path and the dreaded hikers. Suddenly the noise stopped.
Luke and I looked at each other. Should we continue?
Of course, like the dope I am, we decided to try it. I mumbled to myself, to announce my presence. Not very loudly though, because what if he heard me?!
We got to the bend in the trail and suddenly right above us he starts thrashing around again. I guess those bushes wouldn’t let him through and he was just hiding behind the whip thin branches. Luke decided I was a complete idiot and ran as fast as possible back down the path, leaving me there to discuss honey and grubs with Mr. Black Bear. I decided Luke was the alpha of the group and followed at a quick pace. Guess who’s metaphorical tail was between their legs?
What I learned: Make noise so a bear can avoid you before you make eye contact. Bears may be afraid of dogs, but mine won’t be there to shoo one away. Bears are really big. I like seeing our native animals from a distance!
*Sorry about the drawings. I didn’t have a my own picture of a bear and with all the suing and stuff going on, I decided to create my own. They make me laugh – happy Friday everyone!!