Bears. I've had several encounters.  The first was way back in the early 1960's.  My parents, brother and tiny little sister loaded up an old Shasta trailer.  (An Airstream knockoff, I think).  Ended up in Yellowstone, and met my maternal grandmother and grandfather, who'd flown down from Alaska (!) to meet us.  We had a wonderful time there.  Stayed at one of the park campgrounds, not sure which one.  No hookups, so we used the bathhouses.  They were had for us little kids to get into.  Had lots of bear scares.  Every night, several times a night, someone would yell "Bear, bear, bear!".  We never saw one, and soon came to ignore the hollering. 

Not that there weren't bears around.  A little guy came by each night after we were all crammed into the little trailer, to try and open the trash bins.  They were underground then, with heavy iron lids latched down.  My grandmother and dad stayed up late one night to get a picture of him.  They heard the clanking, opened the door, and Dad stepped out with the camera.  NOT the little bear!  And he was stunned at what was happening, so he stood up on his hind legs to see what was happening.  Dad's trying to back up into the trailer, Grandma's pushing him back out yelling "get the picture!!", and the bear is wondering "wtf??"!  No one got hurt or even really threatened.  Oh, and no picture was taken.  😀

Mentioned the bathhouses.  No hookups, so we used them a lot.  My brother and I had the duty of escorting Grandma to and fro;  that was our time.  I think I was seven, my brother 18 months younger.  One of the reasons we couldn't get the doors open easily.  Took both of us to open it.  Being young boys, we finished much sooner than she did, so we just waited outside until she finished.  One night, we heard the "bear, bear, bear!" hollering again.  Shrugged it off, since we hadn't seen one in the campground.  (Slept through the Dad and grandma encounter!)

Suddenly, out of the gloom and ambling into the light, directly toward us was a BEAR.  A real one.  A BIG real one!  We briefly discussed what to do.  I thing a close approximation was "Ahh, er, uh, GO" as we ran back into the bathhouse.  That heavy door didn't present a problem, for some reason.

We were leaning back against the door, trying to remember how to breath, when suddenly,

THE DOOR MOVED!!

We hit it with everything we had.  There was a thump, and a man's voice using the same sort of words Dad used working on the car, the ones we pretended not to know.  Looked out, and there was some fella lying on the ground.  Turns out he'd seen everything that happened, including the bear taking off back into the woods, and wanted to let us know everything was all right.

Another adventure.  Section hiking the Appalachian Trail, from Woody Gap to Unicoi Gap, back in 1998.  Drove up from Florida, packed up, and started hiking in.  An hour or so in, heard a loud crashing of underbrush just in front of me.  Took a second to identify the big brown thing crashing through the brush off the trail.  South end of a fast moving Northbound black bear.  I was shocked;  didn't realize at that time that bears were common enough to be something of a nuisance.  Too stunned to even be scared, until it was too late and it was ridiculous to be so.  Huh.  Stood for a second, and marched on.  Again, no picture. 

Should mention we were in a serious drought.  Drought of record, in fact.  One of my jobs back then was monitoring the federal drought reports and correlating them with Florida's records.  That's how I know it was the worst drought on record.  I earned my trail name, which I use here, on that trip, since the remnants of a tropical storm slowly crossed over where I was hiking.  Rained almost day and night the whole time I was out there.  Naturally.

The second night, since it was pouring and I was soaked, I decided to stay at Whitney Gap Shelter. It had a reliable spring as well as a place out of the rain.  Only water I'd seen all day came out of the sky. The shelter is 1.2 miles off the trail, over a mountain, after a steep climb, at the end of the day.  I was beat!  Finally got there, shortly before dark.  Thick, heavy fog closed in.  I was reading by headlight, and could see fog tendrils floating between the light and book.  Couldn't see anything.  The shelter log mentioned a problem bear.  Fearless, he'd come into the shelter to steal food.  Did I mention I was the only one silly enough to go that far off the trail for water and shelter.  Fretted for quite a while until I figured out no bear in it's right mind would be out on such a nasty night.  Only idiot humans like me.  So, one of the scariest bear encounters was the bear that wasn't there.

Retired medical technologist and engineer
REI member since 1978
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