“A bear went over the mountain. A bear went over the mountain. A bear went over the mountain . . . to see what he could see.” The song goes something like that. Well I just read a blog from over many mountain ranges west and “saw” a few great bear encounter stories. The blogger triggered a gaggle of bear stories on my side of the mountain. (You may find plenty of typoes as too tired to edit.)
Bears Like Toothpaste.
I met a young fellow who was working on the Appalachain Trail during the first of my two trips. He told me about a time when he and a few friends slept at the shelter in which I would be resting. A bear grabbed his pack in the night. It was leaning against the end of the shelter just inside the entrance. The young man found it nearly fifty feet away. The bear totally trashed his pack but only ate the toothpaste, leaving the food untouched.
Outa My Diner.
I was eating berries along a ridge in the Smokey Mountains. A loud Hurrrrumph sounded on the otherside. “Okay, I’ll move on down the line.”
A Bear to Sleep By.
I slept with a bear in camp in Virginial once during my second hike of the Appalachian Trail. A young bear joined my camping space 15 yards away. I chased him/her off a couple of times but he really liked what he was eating. I ate well away from where I was going to sleep, which was on the ground under a tarp help up like a pup tent via trekking poles on each end.
I split my food back into two separate ones after finsihing my dinner and another try to chase the bear away. The bags were hung up a branch of two trees, far from each other. I changed my clothing, put them in a stuff sack and hung it up as well.
How does a person sleep on the ground when a bear is dining so close. Well, I was exhausted after hiking 22 miles. I couldn’t help but fall asleep. However, I did create a mental safety margin. Instead of “counting sheep,” I said over and over “If you feel warm breath on your face, don’t move.” “If you feel warm breath on your face, don’t move.” I figured the bear may become became curious about this body lying on the ground. If such would be the case, then remaining statue still would be a great idea. Imagine a bear gazing at your sleeping form. One move would send curiosity into greater action. Perhaps, a swipe of one of the bear’s massive clawed paw. Uh, Oh, no more face!
In the Night.
The previous story reminds me of a time when I was sleeping in a hammock at one of my “hide-n-sleep” places. I was on a ten day bicycle vacation riding from Shelburne, NH up to Fort Kent, Maine and back. I always find a place to hang the hammock in some trees along the roadside and do so in a place of concealment. Once I find the place, I wait for zero traffic before running myself, bike and trailor into the hidden place.
I was hard pressed to find a place before dark as I was riding along a very large lake with home after home crammed next to each other along the shore. The opposing side of the road was high ledges. I waited until almost dark before running into a tiny space of wild vines, thick shrubbery and a few trees, finally. It was around eleven pm that the sounds of something crashing through the shrubby area permeated my brain. I was still asleep so nothing registered until a subconsious thought woke me into conscious clarity. It was a bear! I hopped up out of the hammock in time to see the bear in shadow. I clapped my hands loudly while stomping on a dead branch. The large dark figure took note and left me alone. What if I hadn’t awakened? Whew!
There was also the time early in the morning on a New Jersey ridgeline trail. I was out and about backpacking during the second week of April. Most nights were cool but this night was a bit warm to keep the closed. I was lazy and left the door open instead of unzipping the screen. The nightl critters hadn’t been around much, so no worries. Pre-dawn my subconscious mind homed in on the fact that “something” was in the tent with me. The “something” was rattling my pack. At least, that’s what it seemed to me in my semi-sleeping state. I sat up and yelled. I’m not sure what kind of noise I made, be words or a shriek. Who knows for I never woke enough to see the “critter.” I did sense it in the air. Must have done a 180 before hitting the ground running. I never did find out what the “critter” was.
Well, I prefer to hit the trail early and did so right away. The trail on the ridge was enjoyable. I kept quiet to soak in and feel the world. A dark upturned stump lay ahead of me. A few more steps sent the stump running down the west side of the ridge. From now on, note that the dark root system of downed trees are not always what they seem. “The bear went over the mountain.” ha ha.
Bears in Northern, NH.
At home, the bear population is plentiful. In fact, there are some well set rules to help prevent messes. Bird feeders are down by tax day, except those who take them in at night. The are not put up until the birds need the help. Some times that’s a bit soon so we refrain from filling an of the fixed feeders and use the hanging type. We bring them in at night. Garbage must be inside a well secured area. Bags are not put out on trash day until within a half hour of actual pick-up. Seems to work most of the time. My garbage is in cans inside a rather large barn. My place (caretaker’s quarters) is an addition on the back of this huge barn. The front rail doors are closed at night and the pedestrian door is checked as the latch doesn’t always work. Well….. one night, I heard the crash of one of the metal cans. Guess the bear was real hungry as he had pried open the large doors. He didn’t factor a door opening, light turned on, and a loud, “Get outa here!” Scared the night-lights out of him. I walked out to the partially opened doors and saw the bag lying a few feet away. I could see the bear in shadow. He was in the inner circle of the driveway among the trees. He just stood there. If I could see his face, I imagine his expression would be that of shock and dismay. He was big or seemed to be in the dark. I bent down to clean up the mess and found the bag intact. I said, “Thanks for not breaking the bag,” put it back in the can and closed the doors.
Okay, the bear has gone over the mountain quite a bit here. One more story. It’s one of my favorites and took place up here on the farm.
It was a bit of a drought year due to little snow and rain for a couple of years. Everyone and their cousins were coming to our large fields of wild blueberries restaurant. I saw deer, coyotes, foxes, a coywolf, rabbits and more. Of course, the bears came too. There was one bear in particular that loved, loved, loved blueberries or had been starving for several years. I’d see him early morning until around nine am. He’d be back by lunch and stay until around three pm. Guess what? He would come again in the evening, around six to seven pm.
Our relationship was going well. If he was in the fields, I would remain in the yard or on the trails. He stayed out of the yard area. I enjoyed his company for much of the summer and then he broke the rules in late August. Yep, I was looking out the window and noticed big mama bear with her two cubs feeding in the backfield right against the woods. No wonder she’s huge. She knows how to protect herself. Believe me. She was huge. The largest I’ve ever seen. Back to my other bear. He was sneaking up along the eastern side of the field on a heading toward the north rock wall. There is an openning to the yard near the garden shed. I walked out of the barn and saw him ambling toward the spot via a cluster of trees behind it. I clapped and yelled when he came into sight. “My space not yours.” Get!” The bear backed off and I knew he wouldn’t give up the territorial dispute that quickly. He’ll try to come in from around the otherside of the garden shed. I went back to the barn and grabbed a wooden stake of about six feet in length. Yes, six feet. I still had one in the big barn after winter. (We use them as guides for plow trucks in winter.) I held the stake horizontally in front of me, about chest high. I shook it and waved it out, up and down while saying, once again, my space not yours. The bear ran behind the vegetable garden and up the large spruce tree. I stood in place for about ten seconds before backing off. I hid behind the large cherry tree and watched him climb down. Yep. He’s not done. There is one more avenue at ready, the Birch garden. I stayed in the shadows until his attention was focused on his next move. Sure enough. The Birch garden. I ran out of my hiding place waving the stake wildly over my head, like an inverted pendulum. The bear tore off for the road, crossed it and ran into the woods.
He was back to his routine the next day and did not try for the yard again. I stayed in the yard and on the trails and he in the field.
Please note that if Mama bear tried that, I’d open the door to my house and say help yourself and I’m outa here! Please also note that black bears are not pets and are dangerous. With that said, “don’t try this at home or anywhere” fits this story. The only reason I held my ground is becaue of our long standing relationship that had gone so well. Had he charged. Well, Okay. You can have the yard but your too small for me to welcome you inside my home.
You would love to read the stories by the blogger who started this whole thing. Call it her learning experiences. Click here to go to post.
Below are pictures of the bear from last story. You can see how much he grew withing a couple months. Must be the super-charged blueberries. Click on photos for full screen view.