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Black bear

Last week while driving down to the cottage late one night with Linda, I saw a large black bear sitting by the side of the road (Lac Nick road off the 245 / exit 106 off the 10). The road was icy and snow covered so I couldn’t slow down to much to get a great look. That would have been lovely; hit the brakes to see bear and wind up in ditch beside said bear in the middle of nowhere at 11pm at night during a snowstorm. Anyways — i’ve seen more than my fair share of wild black bears. This was the fourth time.

The 3rd time was the safest as I was a good 500 feet+ away, up-hill in Cape Breton. The bears just wandered off after giving the couple other people with me a good show.

The 2nd time was hiking with my friend Johan in Harrington on my father’s property. We had hiked up into the valley beside where I grew up, mid-fall before the snow. That time of year is hunting season so as we heard a rustle behind us we thought it must have been a hunter illegally poaching on our land. Instead we saw large brown shoulders through the waist high brush. It took both of us all of 3 seconds to figure it out and bolt. Ran for 10 minutes straight without looking back. Haven’t seen the bear up there since but others have.

The first time was the heaviest. Hiking by myself for a 3 day trek in Colorado (Crested Butte). I had hiked through this valley north of town and up this very high pass (2000 feet+) to get over to the next valley to the east before nightfall. As I reached the top it started to rain, I could see a clear path through tall grass fields down towards where I wanted to be. I started hiking quickly down and round a bend into an open meadow flanked by woods on all sides. In the grass about 100 feet away from me was a small bear. Behind that bear were two more, mother and cub who was mid-climb up a broken tree. They all looked up at me. It started to REALLY rain hard at that moment. I turned and ran back uphill, jumping a narrow, deep creek bed and hiding out at the best vantage spot I could find about 15 minutes away. No sign of chase. That one was lucky as there had been a couple Black bear maulings that summer in Gunisson to the south. I spent the most nervous night camping of my life 1 days walk from the nearest person. Raccoons scratched at my tent all night – which of course sounds very “bearish”. Welcome to the wilds of Colorado!

Update: Here’s the precise spot – You can see a round clearing beside the thicker forest and the creek is running up towards the left along the forest edge.

That’s my history with bears (so far). Pretty lucky re-reading this post. Anyone else?


7 responses to “My history with black bears”

  1. Luke Avatar

    Pretty wild, Stevey! The closest I’ve come to seeing a bear, close up, was driving on a highway outside Shelburne in Nova Scotia. We slowed down, and it was brown, I think. Kinda skinny too. Cute though!

    I’d always heard you were supposed to back away from a bear, preferably bowing to a lower stance than it. But that might be what to do when you find you are really close to one, and it’s already snarling at you;)

  2. Steve Avatar

    I remember thinking that every time also — but your self preservation instincts tell you differently.

  3. Allen Avatar

    Wow. Stevey – never hike alone!

    I have had many run-ins, but none so close. I used to go fishing on a lake near the Gouin Reservoir every summer and it is bear central up there. They generally stayed away from our camp, preferring the garbage dump on the other side of the lake. We used to get in a boat and go look at them digging through garbage.

    Hiking in Vermont (the Long Trail – everyone should do Camel’s Hump IMHO) and on top of a smaller mountain, with a set of binoculars we could see a family of small black bears.

    On a family trip through the Rockies in Alberta and BC when I was young, there were black bears everywhere.

    Suprisingly, on all my canoe trips, maybe about 10-12 either in Algonquin or Laverendrye park, I’ve never seen one, even though both of those parks are well-known for bears. One night we knew a bear had been in our camp as they had ravaged around the firepit looking for scraps, finding only a food-stained grill and pot (our fault for not cleaning them properly) and the grill was mangled and bent.

    Remember when camping in a place where there may be bears – always hang your food in a tree before you go to bed, at least 20 feet up and 10 feet away from the trunk!

  4. trevor Avatar

    well boys, and i call you all boys for a reason. black bears only scare little boys.
    All of my bear stories involve very large silver tipped grizzlies. I used to work in lake louise for parks canada and had daily sightings for four months. sometimes up in the middle of nowhere 10 ft from a mom and her cubs, sometimes locked in a cabin watching them scratching at my mountain bike tires. We even had to get in special dogs from Norway to take care of the problem. Thats why they call me Trevor Brownebear. heh

  5. j Avatar

    there’s a lot of bears in the village. they seem to fond leather chaps. thats the closest i ever got to one.

  6. scott Avatar

    hey there, just thot i’d mention that i referenced this post on midnight poutine’s weekly blog roundup.
    no big deal, but you know, bears!

  7. Steve Avatar

    Saw that Scott – thanks ! Your post about skateparks has made me think about hitting “old foggies” night at south parc (monday’s) or orkus (wednesday’s)…