In the afternoon I spotted a big, cinnamon colored bear near a small creek (King’s Creek, I think). BlackHole and I watched him eat, about 200 feet away. We both wanted him to know we were here, and also to look our way for a picture (I know – I hear stories of people doing this and getting attacked, but whatever….) When we talked loud enough for him to hear us, he looked up, turned around, and took off. Compared to the deer we’ve seen, this bear was pretty chicken – but we were happy to have had the time to admire him.
About a half hour later, when BlackHole rounded a corner in front of me here is what happened:
I hear a thumping noise and look up to my right and see a bear running down the hill directly towards me. His blubber and muscles are rumbling, a dust cloud is following him, and he is continuing in my direction really fast.
Is this the same chicken bear? No, that was too far back.
Did BlackHole scare him up ahead on the trail, and now he is running in fear, coincidentally towards me? What are you supposed to do when a bear is running at you? I guess he will hurt me…but I have my poles to defend myself. Wait, these can’t do much against a bear. I guess I will step behind this tree and extend my life with a few moments of a tussle around this tree. That bear sure is close and running fast.
I stepped behind a skinny tree and tapped my poles together while yelling for BlackHole, hoping he wasn’t already attacked on the trail ahead of me. At that time, the bear was 20 to 30 feet in front of me, and then he veered and continued past me into the brush below.
BlackHole found me in a daze on the trail, out of breath and shaking. He hadn’t seen the bear at all, but had heard my poles clanking. We still aren’t sure if this was a bluff on the bear’s part, or if he was scared by something on the hill, or frightened by distant thunder, but it was a rare experience that I am fortunate to have, even though all the “what ifs” haven’t set in yet.
Speaking of wild beasts, Rolling Thunder reports the following from PCT Mile 1368:
The heat of the day had begun to dissipate by the time we headed up the hill towards Lower Twin Lakes, which at seven miles seemed to be a viable destination for the night. As it was, our progress was initially retarded by the hill we had to climb right out of the ranch but that was more than compensated by hiking into Serious Mosquito Country and the attendant increase in speed.
These bugs were awful and we couldn’t outrun them, eventually giving in and stopping to slather ourselves in Deet. How awful were the mosquitoes? Well, if I was told that Deet had a 100 per cent correlation with cancer, I’d have said it was worth it.