Category Archives: Nature
The choices we make reflect our perception of change, rather than its substance.
I am changing my habit of posting several times a week down to once per week. My “About” home page has been edited to reflect why this is. Click to find out.
Hi all, I’m almost back. My injured person has family here and is also feeling better. I’m attempting to complete several projects related to farming in spring. I’ll begin posting on Monday. I plan to start reading what I’ve missed of those I follow, check out those who are new, or showing interested in the So-Journeys blog, over the next few days. Until then, Happy Tulips from the farm. [Click to see full screen and last one is just for fun.]
I know that I ended my last post with no more bear stories. Well, I just found bear tracks in the thin layer of dirt next to the big barn doors mentioned in the last post. Sooooo, I have tell a story that should have been in the last post. Forgot about it until this morning. It’s hilarious.
I was hiking in the Appalachian Trail in the Smoky Mountains with a friend. We ran into a group of six hikers taking a lunch break at a shelter. The Guy (don’t remember his name) had to share what happened that morning. The group was staying at the previous shelter about 15 miles away. It was late April and the bears were beginning to awake from their long winter slumber.
The group wasn’t together per say, just been meeting up off and on. They were all at the last shelter except the Guy. He came in late and there was no more room in the shelter for him to squeeze into. He pitched his tent in front and found a spot for his pack in the shelter where it would be safe from the bears.
All of the shelters in the Smoky’s have chain link fences across the front with a secre locking mechanism. The Smoky Mountains are a busy place for tourists, creating tension between man’s food supply and demands of the bears. A night in an open shelter makes for easy picking on the part of the bear.
The bear encounter for Guy took place in early morning. Guy rose early to head “nature’s” call. A bear came into the clearing heading for Guy’s tent. I guess the lack of food in the tent ticked off the bear. The amount of anger leads me to believe the bear was a female (being funny). She shredded his tent and Guy ran for the port a potty and locked himself inside. Well, being very disatisfied, the bear walked over to the port a potted grabbed and shook it. Guy fell to the bottom and braced his feet against the door to protect himself. One last shove left the port a potty on its side. Guy didn’t mind a bit. The bear ran off into the brush, most likely to find another victim just for spite.
Here are some photos of the bear tracks imprinted on a thin layer of dirt where work had been done for the driveway. Click on image to view full size.
“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.
My last day on Bangs Island ends with watching the last ember of light fall below the horizon. Mid-level stratus clouds form the canopy above me as I sit awhile longer on the old dry log at the top of the “beach.” I use the quotation marks because at high tide there isn’t much more than a couple of feet above water below the log. Crushed stone is the prime ingredient worn down by the wind, sea, and weather. Years upon years of change. I wonder which ones have been here the longest and in what form. Our world is utterly amazing. I find it hard to imagine how the diversity of the world we live on now was a single mass surrounded by the sea so many years ago. Compare the timeline with outs and we are just infants in the span of the universe.
I elect to settle down inside the tent for the utterly boring dinner. Darkness has descended. The air is warm and the night filled with the song and chatting of night critters. Click on orange arrow in picture to listen. I believe the bird call is that of an Eider Duck. There were quite a few in the area today. Photo cover for the audio is of a flotilla of females from earlier today.
The Maine Island Association (MITA) guidebook asks boaters to report areas where Eider nesting occurs. The Eider’s are not on an endagnered species list. However, nesting areas are greatly diminished due to lack of suitable habitat, meaning safe from human impact.
My photo of a pair of female Eiders isn’t very good. So here is one I downloaded.
It certainly is a critter night. The day was so nice that I left the tent doors open rather than leaving them closed with the screens unzipped. Oh boy, big mistake! I fell asleep before mediation time. Nothing new with that as I’m usually tired, even on days that I don’t paddle. My alarm went off at 9 pm. I donned my headlamp and turned it on. The sound of “jumpy things” reverberated through the tent, sounding like rain. I looked at the floor and these tiny little critters covered it popping up against the sides of the tent where they meet the floor a few inches above on the sides. There were hundreds underneath the tent jumping too. The warm day must have heated up the ground beneath the tent to wake up these tiny jumpy things, many of which decided the inside of the tent was even better. I took my meds and quickly turned off the light. Now, what? This things are inside and outside of the tent. I doubt that sleeping out on the grass will help the situation. Invitation, “Come and get me!” I settled for stating several times, “Stay out of my sleeping bag!” and then added a humble, “Please.” I zipped myself inside as if I were on a winter trek, sealing myself inside as tightly as possible. I awoke a few times in the night happy that the jumpy things obliged my request.
Morning brought an additional inspection of the state of living critters in my tent. I cleared everything out to find hundreds of the jumpy things still alive. I shook out as many as possible but a bit of a slaughter did have to take place to completely rid my “house” of the pesky things.
A little research here at home helped me locate who the tent invasion of jumpy things were. They are Terrestrial Amphipods or Sand Fleas and sometimes referred to as Lawn Shrimp as they turn orange after death. (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Talitridae) Click here for detailed inforamation.
Click on Orange Arrow as you did in the first audio clip. Note that the photo should be credited to to : Sarah Gregg | Italy / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
My camp resides in a postage stamp sized grassy environment. These grasses cover much of the island with a density that makes exploring without adequate protective clothing impossible. The tree population is 90% deciduous scattered about in small stands. There are no trails here. I’m glad as there are few islands in the bay devoid of human intrusion.
Reminder: Click on Any photo for full-screen.
There is a Brown ail Moth Caterpillar near the tent. The are limited to the coast of Maine and Cape Cod at this time but once covered much of New England. This moth is oh so not nice as its larva eats voraciously, defoliating trees and shrubs and the caterpillar has poisonous microscopic hairs. Contact with these hairs cause a poison ivy type rash that may last from a few days to several weeks. It can become a full-blown dangerous allergic reaction in some people. Their nexts are built at the ends of branches rather than in the croch like gypsy moth. Click for source and more information.
The sky is changing from mostly clear to cloudy. These clouds are Altocumulus perlucidus which are a mid-level cloud forming at heights from 1.2 to 4.5 miles above sea level. Height is determined by the severity of atmospheric disturbance. They are formed by the accumulation of moisture and air that is forced high enough for the clouds to form. The heating of the ocean provide the moisture in this case and the upward movement of air is most likely due to convection. The perlucidus version of altocumulous clouds indicate a change in weather within six to eight hours. VHF does call for deteriorating weather and rain in the evening. Click on any of following for resource and info. Clouds online Names of Clouds WeatherOnline
I head over to my dry clothing and gear, stuff it in a bag once more, carry it back to camp and put each item in its place which is mostly in the cockpit, sealed under my dive flag “cover.” Camera in hand I walk to what’s left of my sandless beach to capture a few more scenes and plants before hiking up over the cliffs toward the south as far as possible to grab a few more photos. This shouldn’t take long as the cliff exposure is a very short distance before hitting trees, shrubs and brush. The tide is rising as well which will cut this portion off if I wait much longer. I’ll take my nap later.
Zoomed in on buoy from cliff. It’s position and movement indicates current and speed.
Enjoy the Slide show.
I capture a few more images before returning to the west side of the island.
Like a child, as all adults should be, I search your face for clues. Who are you? Where did you come from?
How long will you stay?
I lie beside you, resting on one arm. Look at that!
I poke you with my finger, nothing happens.
Hmm, are you sleeping?
I stretch out on your other side as full and long as I can.
My feet want to be at one end and my head at the other, but I don’t make it. You are too big and I am too small.
I crawl on my knees from one end to the other. I gaze across your top, to see the world as you do.
The palm of my hand brushes your back.
I feel the smoothness of your ruff.
The Monarch’s cross the sea
to feed on these.
Goldenrod and Milkweed.
I wish to show you sunrise, a view to the south, the shoring of the berm a top the “itshmus”, and a little snack before I head back to camp.
Yup, I’m still eating Rose Hips. Great stuff. Now, back to camp.