Bear Encounter

Last Saturday I took the family and some friends to CamelBeach Water Park in the Poconos. Since I’m not big on splashing around in the water with a bunch of strangers and a few friends, I headed on over to Big Pocono State Park and hiked all day. For now all I have are cell phone pictures, but I have pics on a disposable camera that I plan to get developed pretty soon. There was one thing everyone says I should have taken a picture of but didn’t. My camera was the last thing on my mind when I saw that mama bear and her two cubs.

Back in northeast Missouri we don’t have bears. The biggest wild game there is deer. So, when I hear something big crashing through the woods, naturally I assume it’s a person or a deer. When I saw a black bear cub step onto the path only about 10 meters ahead of me, I knew his mother was nearby. The actual words I muttered at that moment were “Oh crap.”

I backtracked a few meters and got behind a tree, knowing that would provide little protection if she decided to attack. I’m no sheltered urbanite with Disneyesque delusions. I know that even normally docile, domesticated animals and livestock can become incredibly aggressive when they have young.

Mulling it over, and seeing that the cub was off the path, I opted for a bluff. I walked steadily forward, speaking loudly and saying things like “Hey bear, I know you’re there and I’m not even slightly interested in you or your cub.” When I got even with where I had seen the cub I looked to the right, and there they were. There were actually two cubs, several months old, on either side of their mother. She had a rather worried, dog-like look on her face. She was about 8 meters away. I continued speaking loudly, not missing a beat, and she turned and made a swaggering run up the hill in the other direction. Her cubs pounced along behind her.

I kept walking.

I’m not sure how much real danger I was in, but I’m glad I didn’t see the CNN article on bear attacks before my hike.

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