(This picture was taken in Yukon in April, on my way to Alaska)
Finally, I have seen a bear, face to face, in the wild!
I have been so concerned and fearful about bear encounter in the wild ever since the beginning of my trip in April. Luckily, I have seen black bears 10 times in Yukon, on my way to Alaska, from the safety of my car. I have been Grizzly Bears a couple of times in Denali National Park, also in the safety of tour buses. In Girdwood, I have seen black bears 3 times, just sitting inside the house! Once the bear saw me through the huge window and he turned immediately as if he was afraid of me. Another time, the land-lady woke me up before 6 in the morning – a black bear got into her pickup truck when she forgot to roll up the window the night before.
Yet, I had been really lucky not encountering a bear in the wilderness while I was hiking, until two days ago.
After a long hike on that day, I drove around the neighborhood trying to find a trail head I found on the map. I wasn’t going to hike again, but just wanted to check out the trail head and the trail condition. Some of the trails in the area are so poorly maintained that they are too over grown to hike.
There wasn’t any sign for trail head when I found the place, but there seemed to be some type of path. I stepped out the car and walked a few steps into the path, just wanted to check it out and see it clearly.
Then I saw it, a big black bear, only a few steps away from me, separated by only bushes! Instantaneously, without thinking, I turned and ran away, as fast as I could. I was out of my breath when I reached in my car, from running and from being so scared. Then I realized I did something wrong – against all the information I read, in opposition to all the advice I heard, I followed my basic intuition and ran away from a bear.
I have heard over and over again that running is the worst thing to do when you encounter a bear. Somehow, running triggers him to think you are food! Thank goodness the bear was eating and there were plenty of food for him on that day. Perhaps he was on a “vegetarian” diet at the time!
For whatever reason, I am so grateful that even though I did the wrong thing, he didn’t chase me. I would be in such a terrible trouble if he did decide to catch me. I was so poorly “equipped” – no bear spray with me even though I have always had it with me when I hiked, and I was even in a pair of flip flops! I guess the old saying is true: things always happen when you are least expected.
Well, I truly hope I won’t see another bear in the wild. If I do, I hope, I will be less frantic and do the right thing instead of just follow my basic fright intuition.
PS. my photo website: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/qing-yang.html