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We have a bear story for you today, as told to us by a US Park Ranger. Thought you would find it as amusing as hu-dad did.
The reason the sign caught our eye is that bears on this trail are not unusual at all. We have even posted pictures of some of our bear encounters from this trail here and here. Go ahead and click those links. We will wait until you come back to tell our story today.
So hu-dad stepped into the ranger station to ask about the signs. Even though we wear bear bells and are used to dealing with bears on the trail, if the bears were being unusually aggressive, we would just go somewhere else to hike. The ranger said the bears were just being normal, but the signs were prompted by a recent encounter.
A woman was on the trail and accidentally found herself between mama bear and her cub. Now, black bears are normally quite docile, but mama bears are very protective of their cubs (aren’t most mamas?). So this bear decided to puff up, make a lot of noise, and charge at the woman.
Normally, the charge is all bluster. Now this is really easy to say, but much harder to remember when a bear is actually charging at you – If you keep facing the bear and back slowly away from the cub, mama just keeps making her noise while you slowly give her space.
The one thing you don’t ever want to do is turn your back on mama and run. A bear can run faster than a human and running can actually encourage the bear to chase.
So, guess what? Yep. The woman ran. And mama bear chased the woman.
The woman is very frightened and runs off the trail, through the woods, and right down to the Blue Ridge Parkway where there are other people and cars. Seeing a car on the side of the road, she tries to get into the car while screaming hysterically.
Makes sense, right? Not for the driver of that other car. All he knows is that some screaming woman has crashed out of the woods and is trying to get into his car with his now scared family. Anyone who has read Stephen King or Dean Koontz knows this is not good.
The bear, meanwhile, has taken this opportunity to quietly guide her cub away from all of the commotion. The rangers arrive to one woman screaming about a bear chasing her and another person screaming about a crazy car jacker.
As the ranger succinctly put it, “We had a mess.”
P.S. – Our hike was quite peaceful and we never saw a bear. This time.
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