Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bears on the trail

My sister and I were fortunate enough to be able to spend some time at one of our favorite places in the world. The catch was we stayed in a camper trailer with four kids under the age of 4. There were a few afternoons where we needed a break from being confined to small places and small people, so we took turns going off by ourselves while the little ones took a nap.

It was a hot afternoon and it was mine to go off and me on my own. I knew exactly where I was going. I would ride my bike to the trail head of a trail I hadn't taken before.

The heat from the Indian summer contributed to an early sweat, but I pushed the bike along, enjoying the breeze I made for myself. I made the trail head with plenty of time to hike the trail, see where it went, and still have enough energy to ride my bike back to the camper and help my sister with dinner.

My legs shook a little from the muscle power I used to climb the hills on my bike, but I felt strong. I wouldn't say I was nervous- although being alone in the woods can always be a bit apprehensive at first. I was in a location where there were no grizzlies, like where I live, and I could hike without a care or any worries of checking my back as I went.

I made it to a meadow, a very short way from the trail head, and stopped to look at the forest before me. A breeze touched the trees and I decided to wait until the breeze died down. Normally I would not have worried about a breeze, but with the massive amounts of trees in the Rocky Mountains being killed by beetles, weak root systems left them victim to the wind and many were know to fall down. I didn't want to take my chances.

Feeling the wind stop I decided to move on. I had nothing to be scared of, no trees fell.

Not far into the forest I heard a noise like a tree popping. I immediately stopped and turned towards the noise. Maybe I shouldn't have been hiking through the trees after all.

I saw movement, and realized it wasn't a tree but a black bear I had spooked. He or she was less than 20 yards away.

I had enough sense to turn around and start walking towards the trail head, away from the forest and away from where I saw the bear. Had it seen me? I had no idea, only a natural response of leaving- quick. I knew better than to start running, knowing the bears response to this would be to come after me, but I felt my feet carrying me away quicker than a walk.

In hind sights, I should have gathered myself enough to look around for more bears, but my flight instinct was taking over my brain. So when I heard another noise, I turned my head to look and see, out of the corner of my eye, a bear run up the meadow I had been hustling back through.

I don't know if it was the same bear or not.

I didn't stick around to find out.