Another Bear Story
Blog Posted:3/31/2013 10:23:00 PM
The bear sonnets prompted me to dig out my log account of the bear episode my Boy Scouts and I had during the week we hiked 100 miles down the Appalachian Trail. I almost do not believe it myself except I was there. I post here again for your enjoyment and enlightenment as to how much you can believe about the safety of hiking these wilderness trails. The Forest Rangers do not bar fire arms in the preserves and trails but discourage bringing them. Do not believe a word of it. I reread my hiking log today and want to change the bear episode slightly. The kid who was carried down the hill said he weighed 150 pounds and the bear picked him up like he was “nothing” (his own words). The bear only bit the boy twice instead of four times. The tooth marks of the tusks were 4 inches apart on his upper fleshy part of the back. We only had some bacitracin ointment, which I had in my first aid kit. The team coaches who brought the boy up had nothing. I packed ointment into the wounds which were more than a half inch deep. We left early but received a note from the coach after getting back home. The rangers came in on horseback and radioed for a helicopter at a nearby clearing and they carried the boy to the hospital. There were no lasting effects of the bite, thanks to the bacitracin and his prompt treatment. While there, the bear was located and was killed. Once getting that much taste of a human it would only get worse and it was too old to captivate.The boys and I left straight away the next morning and for a change there were no cat calls to the bear, loud talking or joking. They were only putting as much space as they could between themselves and that campsite. We hiked until early evening without stopping for lunch. It was wash day. That had been decided before we left home. We went the 500 foot path down to the spring. As I said before the spring is divided into an upper and a lower and the lower is for washing. This was about 45 minutes before the sun went down behind the adjacent ridge. While we were at the spring one of the boys looked up and a mother bear as large as the one which was killed, was approaching the spring from the hill opposite the road we had walked down to get to the spring. We immediately hid behind a tree and constantly watched the two cubs which were about the size of a large beach ball. We watched them because we knew that ultimately the mother bear would follow them, although she seemed to be getting quite aggravated with their antics. They were beautiful and the mother was frustrated but seemed completely in charge. We could tell when she was fussing at them. Fortunately the cubs scampered up the road we had just came down, and she followed. We waited until they were almost out of sight and we bolted for the road, yelling and screaming and waving our arms. The bears immediately bolted up the high bank as we chased them up the road. We could barely see them, except for the mama bear, scurrying away to our left, so we hightailed it on up the road to the cabin, and slammed the gate shut, tying it with the rope and chain provided. Not more than a couple of minutes later one of the cubs came around the corner of the Adirondack. Then the other one and the mama bear. She would not approach the shelter but the cubs did. They were not afraid at all. One of the guys had dropped his canteen on the way into the shelter. The cubs were biting it and playing like it was a toy. I inspected it later after the episode was over, and it had a lot of small pinholes in it where their teeth had penetrated the hard aluminum canteen. By now I had decided that all of those ads about being one with nature, somehow just do not tell the whole story. I probably have had my fill of camping in the wild, if I ever do go back I will be well armed with something stronger than loud voices.