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Re: [pct-l] grin and bear it

Kelly Miller wrote:

> Nice thing about a political election...  No one has discussed bears or bear boxes in
> several days at least!  :)


I was walking up the valley of the south fork of Woods Creek toward the Rae Lakes, pumped
up at the end of a spectacular and warm day.  I'd started at the Kings River, hiking over
Pinchot Pass into the first of the dry eastern climate.  There had been a bunch of hikers
at the confluence of north and south forks of Woods Creek, all trying to ignore each
other.  It felt wonderful to hike by all that.  I think that's what in large measure
energized me for the final pull up to the Rae Lakes.

If you remember, the valley is glacial, broad and bush ridden, with a small creek
gurgling down its center.  The open valley gives over to forest on either side.  The
trail was on the west side.  I was also pumped because I remembered the Rae Lakes from
previous trips, and was ready to make camp and marvel at the cirque peaks change color as
the sun descended into the haze of Fresno, thankfully hidden from view.

I had my thumbs hooked under the shoulder straps of my D-3(this was in 92).  I came
around a big tree and there, 30' in front of me, ten feet from the trail, was a big old
cinnamon bear grubbing in a log.  I stopped and stood there, watching him as he rooted
around.  I knew I had to make my presence known.  I backed up ten feet or so and
harumphed loudly, trying to overcome the sound of the burbling south fork of woods creek
50' away.  He didn't hear me and I harumphed again, this time really clearing the flem
from my throat.

He looked up, a spacy, not there look in his eyes, and looked back down to the log he was
mauling.  With a jerk he did a classic double take and focused on me.  For a split second
our eyes met across 40' or so, before he decided the best thing to do was leap into the
brush and galumph across the creek and its open space.  I stood there and watched him
run, his big ole butt bouncing in the air, until he made the edge of the forest on the
other side of the valley a couple hundred yards away.  I was laughing out loud, both at
his running and the double take.  I've never seen a wild animal do that.

I started hiking up the trail, looking over my shoulder to see what the bear was doing.
He'd gone 20 yards or so into the forest and was hard to see.  But I could see him.  He
was skulking up the valley parallel to me.  I stopped and considered, and started hiking
again, my eyes over my shoulder almost constantly, watching him and the trail in front of

He was paralleling my route.  This was an eerie feeling.  I'd been hiking in the woods
with bears for over 30 years, since I was six, and feel I'm part of their world.  My
heart pounds when they root around for food at night, but I go back to sleep pretty
easily.  Maybe it was the shock of the encounter.  Maybe it was ten days of hiking
alone.  I don't know.  But I was feeling just a little paranoid, a little scared.  And he
was easily 200 yards away.

The bear entered a little clearing, an indentation in the forest, and started to sidle
across it.  I thought he was looking out the side of his eye at me, but wasn't sure.  But
I thought he was and my hackles were standing up.

I stopped, filled my lungs, and let out the loudest, meanest roar I could manage.  I sent
that sucker from the depths of my diaphragm.  The bear stopped with a jerk, holding
still, and looked directly at me as I stood on the trail.  For five or six seconds we
were both motionless, tuned into each other's presence, waiting, wondering what the other
was going to do.  It'd felt good to roar so I inhaled and let out another angst ridden

He backed up a couple steps, slowly starting to swing around.  He kept his head facing me
as he slunk into the forest and disappeared.  I roared again to establish my dominance
beyond question.  God, what power!  I'd actually scared a bear.  I was hyped up,
adrenaline racing.  I started hiking again, checking back to make sure he wasn't
following.  He wasn't, or at least visibly.

10 minutes later I crested the rise, turned to the right, and encountered a group of ten
people setting up camp at the outlet of Dollar Lake.  I stopped and told them about the
big cinnamon bear a quarter mile down the trail, on the far side, heading up valley.  I
saw the faces of the five or so people I was talking with tighten and look down the
trail.  I didn't tell them about having roared a bear into submmission.  I didn't think
they would believe me.

Jeffrey Olson
Laramie, Wyoming...

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