Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Close Encounter of the Bear Kind

It's been a busy few weeks full of adventures!

Apologies to my 37 followers and (hopefully) other readers for disappearing -- have been caught in a whirlwind of work and fun, pretty much in that order.

After a sudden trip to Atlantic City for work (I won ZERO money at the blackjack table), it was off to upstate NY for a trip to check out my nephew's summer camp, and then back for another rapid-fire week of work, and then back up to upstate NY for a weekend at our friend's beautiful Catskills cabin.

Sandwiched in between there have been bike rides aplenty, and one scary bout of food poisoning that almost had me back in the hospital (luckily I rebounded and the ER doc decided to send me home).

I was healthy enough this weekend to travel to beautiful Fleischmann's in the Catskills. I had perused several hiking books in advance and was really excited to try a 4-mile hike to an old farm way up in the mountains. Driving out there M and I both commented on the area's extreme remoteness....

We should have paid heed to our instincts, because not 30 minutes into our hike, who did we meet? Momma Bear and her two cubs.
Haines Photos

These are not the bruins we met (I grabbed this pic from TripAdvisor) but the cubs were just about this size. We had been moving silently up the trail when we heard a sudden rush of movement about 30 feet to our left -- it was Momma Bear sending her cubs up a tree to escape us. We were obviously a dire threat to them, in her mind.

It. Was. Scary. O..M...G. She stared us down and growled about three times -- short, panting, angry blasts. M started to run up the hill but I grabbed him and said, sotto voce, "Do. Not. Move."

Thank the Ursula Goddesses, she decided we were harmless and looked away. We chose that moment to melt backwards down the trail. If she had charged at us, we would have been goners. There was a stream about 10 feet behind us, and I whispered to M that if she ran at us, we would sprint to the stream and try to pelt her with rocks.

After viewing this, I realize we would never have made it to the stream -- those bears can move.

It only took this one encounter with the wilder side of Mother Nature to send us mewling back to our fancy cabin, complete with hot tub. We stayed there for the rest of the weekend!

All is well otherwise, health is good. Check in with you all soon.


  1. Yikes! Next time make sure to keep a conversation going or tie a bell on your backpack! Otherwise, kind of a cool experience since you lived to tell about it. ;) Glad to see a post from you in my RSS feed!

  2. Brittany, the bell is an excellent idea! Thanks so much. That may be the only way I can get M back on the trail! It was cool to see the bear family - they were beautiful.

  3. I grew up in Alaska and it was what we always did when we were out hiking. :) If it makes M feel even better, you can always carry bear spray (basically just pepper spray -- but this is only for use directly in the bear's face, which means they have to be pretty close), but for the most part bears want nothing to do with you and you'll help them avoid you if they can hear you coming!

  4. O.M.G - you did better than I would have, I freaked the time I ran into a family of skunks while on my bike.... I couldn't imagine seeing a mama bear & her cubs. Glad you made the best out of your weekend!

  5. Sounds scary...glad you were able to ease the stress by relaxing in the hot tub!

  6. Glad you are doing well Ish. And glad the bear encounter ended well. (the cubs in the TripAdvisor photo ARE cute...must have been amazing to see them that close!) All the best!

  7. I know it's scary BUT how wonderful! I would have been a goner as I would have jumped up and down in excitement. Either that or she'd have thought I was a nutter and given me a wide be(a)rth!

    I did not know that they catch and eat sheep - REALLY?