Thursday, November 10, 2011

They Bearly Made It

Queen Anne's Leftovers

So, when we last left our intrepid family, they had narrowly escaped a black bear's attention while it munched on red berries in a tree right next to the trail on which they were hiking. Even so, they decided it would be wise to continue to hike single file, with the kids in between the parents, just in case they ran across another wild animal. They passed a couple of groups of hikers and warned them of the bear in the tree, feeling confident they would make it back to the car in good shape.

About a half mile past where they spotted the bear in the tree, the mom heard a loud, crunching, movement-type sound on the uphill side of the trail. She stopped abruptly, told everyone to be quiet and looked toward the sound. They all heard the sound that time, and through the gaps in the trees, where the sunlight filtered to the ground, she saw the shape of a head and a very large, fuzzy ear.

Her husband eased up to her and asked if she thought it was a deer. She pointed at the very large, fuzzy ear about 20 yards away and said, "No. Definitely not a deer. That there's a big ole bear. Big. Like, BIG." The head turned toward the family, as if determining whether or not they were worth pursuing. The husband pushed everyone behind him (because that's just the kind of guy he is) and they watched, not breathing, tensed and ready to use every ounce of their junior ranger training to prevent an attack.

The bear turned uphill and slowly began to walk in the opposite direction the family was hiking. The husband herded his family up the trail, distancing them from the bear, watching behind to see if she turned. The wife had her hands on her boys' shoulders, urging them to walk quickly, but not run - reassuring them that they were fine.

And they were. The last half mile of the hike was uneventful, although the adrenaline made it feel somehow dangerous. The children were understandably frightened, but not panicked, and by the time they reached the car, everyone was laughing (albeit nervously) about their brush with wildlife.

After a short rest and refuel at the car, they all decided to head up another (well traveled and heavily populated) trail to see the rest of the views they had come to see.

Derek, Joshua and Mt LeConte

They also got a story to tell their children...