Bear Encounters - Your Stories

Kmatjhwy

Wilderness Wanderer
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Sep 23, 2016
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Now have been thinking of this for awhile of starting a thread where we here could post our Bear Stories that we have had while we have been camping and hiking out in the wilds. We all or most of us here probably have several or quite a few close encounters with Bears. I know that I personally have a bunch. In my years of hiking, have had maybe 2 or 3 dozen super close encounters with Grizzles up in especially the Greater Yellowstone Country. Guess as for myself on this do think more as it relates to Grizzlies then to Black Bears for have never been threatened or endangered by a Black Bear. But a good Black Bear story is also welcomed. Do know that there are several of us here who have had some close encounters with the Bears. In these stories also we can all learn something do think.

As for this thread, not only post your Bear Encounters, but do you have any pertinent advice to give to others when hiking in Grizzly Country - Bear Country. Have you or a friend of yours ever been mauled, injured, or even killed by a Bear? If you would like to post the story then feel free to. How many of us have had some close Grizzly or Black Bear encounter. Now since it is winter and how long till we here can get back into that good High Country, soooo let's here the stories ....

And I will start in the next post we several of my own close Grizzly Bear encounters for everyone.
 

Kmatjhwy

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Sep 23, 2016
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Now will start off with several close Grizzly Bear encounters that I have had ....

Now this first story is two stories is one. The dates of this story is first on May 20, 2003 and then on July 8, 2006. I feel as if these two separate Grizzly Bear encounters were similar for do think it was the same bear and in the same area. On May 20, 2006, I was hiking back to the Soda Fork Meadows in the Teton Wilderness in NW Wyoming. Now was heading into the wilderness with a huge amount of supplies. I had been in briefly with a friend before, but now was going in for the spring and summer. The Soda Fork Meadows is along the North Buffalo River and is about 5 to 6 miles up the trail from the trailhead at Turpin Meadows. Turpin Meadows is located at the end of the Buffalo Valley Road near Moran in Grand Teton NP.

Now I was heading up the trail and in the afternoon arrived up on the bench that is above and parallels the Soda Fork Meadows below. The trail was still covered with snow, so via a little drainage, went down to the lower part of the meadows nearby. I know these meadows personally like the back of my hand and have seen quite abit of Grizzly sign here thru the years. Then made my way up along the side of the meadows toward the place I usually camp. Have been here often thru the years. In going up along the side of the meadows this day, I rounded a point of trees and here before me was a part of the open meadows with quite abit of willow bushes around. And out here among the willow bushes was a big Grizzly Boar feeding. The Grizzly Boar was like a couple of hundred yards out feeding. And the bear did notice me with looking in my direction. The Grizzly Boar looked like such a fine specimen for it's species. The bear seemed to be about possibly 400 lbs. or so in weight. I immediately started to retreat slowly backstepping to the trees and forest behind me while talking to the nearby Grizzly. The Grizzly Boar immediately walked up to like 25 feet or so from me. I was scared bigtime for the bear here was like 25 feet or so away. I just stood there for like 5 minutes or so facing the Grizzly while the Grizzly just stared at me. I then swung my pack down in front of me in one swift motion. After this from deep inside of me with all of my fear, I screamed and screamed bloody murder. When one thinks that their life is in danger, there is a scream one can produce that cannot be faked in the slightest. Once I screamed, the Grizzly Boar turned and ran up the nearby hillside into the deep forest. I then proceeded on with getting to my camping area that evening. I will still shaking from this encounter several days later.

Now the second part of this story happened several years later on July 8, 2006. This second part of the story happened quite close to the same area, in the nearby area when I was about to cross a small creek. Do think this second encounter was with the very same boar from several years before. This whole area of the Soda Fork Meadows have soooo often dayhiked thru and numerous times have seen fresh Grizzly sign in the area. This day and time I was coming back from a long dayhike down to the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Buffalo River and this part happened in the late afternoon. These encounters were also all offtrail in the area. Here I was coming back with heading back to camp, when I went into the nearby forest for a bit. Here I came to a small creek nearby. And immediately noticed that there was a large near 400 lb. Grizzly or so along the creek. This Grizzly immediately ran up into the nearby forest, with going into forest like 75 to 100 feet or so from me. It all happened so fast. But right before the big Grizzly was about to go into the trees, it stopped and looked - stared right at me. I had stopped and was in return just staring and watching the Grizzly Boar. As we were looking at each other, for like a minute or two, we locked eyes. At this moment, I personally was caught up in the moment and was not afraid or scared or anything, Also I did have Bear Spray with me. if needed. This then in what happened has become one of my most amazing experiences in my life. I felt and sensed as the Grizzly was staring at me, that the Grizzly could read me from my head to my feet it seemed. As I stared into the Grizzly's eyes, I could so sense sooooo much intelligence bigtime. Again felt and sensed as I stared into the big Grizzly's eyes, how much intelliegence there was behind those eyes. We stared into each others eyes for only like a minute or two, but it seemed like so much longer. After this the big Grizzly turned and walked slowly away into the nearby forest. Then I turned with crossing the nearby creek with heading on back to camp. Now years later I just cannot forget this experience with staring into this big Grizzly's eyes ... how much intelligence did I sense and feel. We Humans so often pride ourselves on our intelligence. Are we really the most intelligent creatures around? How much can all these creatures including the Grizzlies be some teacher for us in our lives.
 
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LarryBoy

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Great topic.

I am cursed. I've put on four thousand miles, give or take, on my feet in the last five years. I hiked the Appalachian Trail, and a big trip in the GYE every year for each of the past four years.

All this to say - I've never seen a bear. I don't know if it's just bad luck, or if I'm truly that unobservant. I hike alone, from dawn to dust, relatively quietly. I don't know what it is. Perhaps I'm just a particularly nasty-smelling thru hiker that they want no part of. Perhaps I just look at my feet too much.

Anyhoo, despite that, I was hiking thru the Absarokas this summer and happened upon an outfitter camp just west of Deer Creek Pass, in the Borner Fork area. I knew better than to camp there, as it was clearly well-established, and my OPSaks were already starting to fail - I could smell my food, which means that a bear certainly could from a mile away. I was dog-tired though, and in the fading evening I decided to set up camp there anyway.

Sure enough, in the middle of the night, I woke up, thinking that I heard something. I got up, shone my headlamp around, yelled a little, heard nothing. Went back to sleep. In the morning, sure enough, my Ursacks were brown and dripping. The bear didn't get anything, but did manage to puncture/pop most of the plastic bags inside my Ursack, rendering my food inedible. Next time I go into the GYE, or bear country in general, I'm going to bear bag rather than rely on OPSaks.
 

Kmatjhwy

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LarryBoy, now don't feel cursed, one of these summers you will have that experience as you continue to hike without a doubt in my opinion.

Now this next story also happened in July of 2006 ... it was about a week and a half from that last encounter on July 8, 2006. This happened on July 19, 2006. The location was on top of the Absaroka Divide above Pass Creek, on the very border of the Teton and the Washakie Wildernesses. This encounter also happened wayyy off the beaten path all by my lonesome. If something had indeed happened to myself, for where I was then that would have been it for I was miles from help again all by my lonesome. This encounter was one of those encounters that one does not want to experience. In the short of it, I was bluff charged by a Grizzly Sow with one cub. On this day was camped down below in the beautiful upper meadows along Pass Creek here in the Teton Wilderness. Now from these meadows, one sees on the ridgeline above, a beautiful turret - castle like peak. I had often wanted to hike up to near the peak on the ridge. So in the morning, dayhiked up an unanmed nearby creek drainage, up to the Absaroka Divide above. It was a pleasant and easy hike to the top. Here at the top on the other side was the Lapalli Creek Drainage which eventually flows into the Ishawooa Creek Drainage in the Washakie Wilderness. Now when on the ridgeline, immediately saw that there were several turret - castle like peaks along the ridge. Then I hiked up the ridgeline to between the two peaks. At the top, stopped and enjoyed the view. Here immediately below me were hundreds of feet of cliffs. Now right where the cliffs started were some feet of rocks and slope with some snow patches right above the cliffs.. In the distance could see the flats out in the distance near where Cody, Wy. is located. After a short time I backed up some feet from the cliffs for safety sakes. Here I saw coming and running towards me, a small Grizzly Sow with one cub of the year. The cub was blond in color and sooooo adorably cute bigtime! The Sow Grizzly appeared small in size and came right towards me. As the Grizzly Sow came at me, I started to just scream and scream bloody murder. Again there is a scream you can make that one cannot fake when you think your life is in danger and about to end as in this case. This Grizzly Sow came at me, three separate times in bluff charging me, down to only like 5 to 8 feet away. Yes three separate times did this Grizzly Sow come at me down to like 5 to 8 feet away. I would just stare at the Sow and scream thinking this was about it and all she wrote for my life. The Sow would come at me then would retreat a few feet then come at me again. And again I would just scream and scream. After the third charge, the Sow retreated to like 15 feet away and just looked at me. I kept my eyes on the Sow Grizzly the entire time. The Sow was only like 3 feet at the shoulders and seemed small for a Grizzly. After this third charge and staring at me for a bit, the Sow retreated and vanished with her cub. Later this day continued to dayhike along the ridge seeing all kinds of views and wildlife. It seemed everywhere were huge herds of Elk, with in fact hundreds of them it seemed. And here I was all by my lonesome. And during this time had not seen some other people for days. And there was not a sign of people up on this Absaroka Divide. But as for myself and my sanity after being soooo bluff charged by this small Sow Grizzly, my nerves had been shattered. I was seemingly constantly getting on my knees and thanking the Creator for sparing my life. It was like a half of a week later and it seemed as if I was still inwardly shaking from this encounter. And now it has been 10 plus years since this encounter, 10 more years plus that I have been permitted to be in the land of the living and enjoying life. Again if I had been mauled by this Grizzly with being so deep in the wilds and no other people even remotely nearby, it would of been probably all that this life had wrote for me. I had bear spray with me at the time. But when one is bluff charged, how one's focus so narrows and how one will think when their life could unexpectedly end.
 
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wsp_scott

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I have seen lots of black bears in the SE Appalachians, only a couple have freaked me out since most run the minute they hear you coming.

The one that freaked me out the most was a couple years ago in Big South Fork on the border of TN and KY. I was backpacking by myself and it was drizzling and about 50 degrees. I was walking along not really paying attention when I heard a growl/roar and I looked up and saw two bears about 30 feet from me. I yelled and one immediately ran down the hill away from me, the other one stood up to get a good look at me, that is when I yelled some more. He eventually figured out that I wasn't food and followed the other one off into the woods.

The best bear experience I ever had was hiking on the AT in NJ a couple years ago. Again I was by myself. I had set up camp just off the trail in a small clearing and hung my food about 75 feet away. When I woke up and went to retrieve my food, there was a bear up a tree about 50 feet away and another on the ground about 100 feet away. They completely ignored me as I got my food and headed back to break camp. About a mile down the trail, there was another bear up a tree right over the AT, that one also ignored me. A minute later I ran into a south bound thru-hiker and stopped to chat for a moment. One of us looked up and realized there were three cubs in the tree right above us. We both took a couple of photos and headed in our separate directions.

 

Perry

Formerly Cuberant
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I have seen lots of black bears in the SE Appalachians, only a couple have freaked me out since most run the minute they hear you coming.

The one that freaked me out the most was a couple years ago in Big South Fork on the border of TN and KY. I was backpacking by myself and it was drizzling and about 50 degrees. I was walking along not really paying attention when I heard a growl/roar and I looked up and saw two bears about 30 feet from me. I yelled and one immediately ran down the hill away from me, the other one stood up to get a good look at me, that is when I yelled some more. He eventually figured out that I wasn't food and followed the other one off into the woods.

The best bear experience I ever had was hiking on the AT in NJ a couple years ago. Again I was by myself. I had set up camp just off the trail in a small clearing and hung my food about 75 feet away. When I woke up and went to retrieve my food, there was a bear up a tree about 50 feet away and another on the ground about 100 feet away. They completely ignored me as I got my food and headed back to break camp. About a mile down the trail, there was another bear up a tree right over the AT, that one also ignored me. A minute later I ran into a south bound thru-hiker and stopped to chat for a moment. One of us looked up and realized there were three cubs in the tree right above us. We both took a couple of photos and headed in our separate directions.


Awesome picture!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Rockskipper

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Here's my hair-raising bear story. :eek: (j/k)

I was hiking up Marion Gulch, which is above Carbondale, Colorado. It's the site of an old coal mining town. The trail goes by the old mine then goes up the side of a big mountain into aspens, following a small creek. I used to hike up there pretty much every day.

Well, one day, I hiked off-trail and ended up in a small meadow that was surrounded by big old-growth aspens. As I stood there, I looked up into these big trees and was amazed to find bear claw marks everywhere. I mean, it reminded me of a bunch of huge cat-scratch posts. From the size of the claw marks, it looked like the bears' paws were huge, as well as the bears being about 20 feet tall. I stood there in amazement, then realized the marks were old and the trees had grown a lot, stretching the marks and taking them up high.

I continued on up the trail very quietly, kind of thinking about dire bears for some reason. :help:

I rounded a curve in the trail to come upon…a baby dire bear! I realized it hadn't heard or seen me, so I slipped behind the nearest tree. I was only about 15 feet from it.

I stood and watched it for quite awhile. It was right by the creek where an old fenceline came down, and it stood and used one of the fence poles as a scratching post. It then went into the creek and splashed around for awhile playing, then came back out and rolled in the dust on the trail, turning itself into a muddy mess. I was totally delighted to watch this youngster enjoy life—until it started up the trail my way. I decided it would be best to show myself rather than startle it, so I stepped out from behind the tree and said, "Yo, bear" (which is what the bear biologists say you should say, well, I think it is, anyway, because that's what everyone always says).

It turned and took off running. I felt bad that I had scared it, but it still remains as one of the highlights of my life, watching this young cinnamon-colored black bear play.
 
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Kmatjhwy

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Now Wsp_scott and Rockskipper, Love your stories and Thanks for Posting.
And that is some pic with those cubs up in the trees like that Wsp_scott. Amazing photo. Personally have seen many a bear but nothing like your photo.

Now thought I would post several more of my close encounters with the Grizzly Bear kind for everyone.

Now this bear encounter happened in early August of 2011 in the Teton Wilderness also of Wyoming. I had been in the wilderness in July with a good friend, had gone out and been resupplied, with now heading back in. I had come up the North Buffalo Fork Drainage via the Soda Fork Meadows, the North Buffalo Fork Meadows, and then at Clear Lake up on top north of Turpin Meadows in the wilderness. The night before the encounter I had a really delightful night at Clear Lake as always. Clear Lake is always one of more favorite spots here in this wilderness. This was another encounter that one would not rather have had, but Thanks to the Creator that it all turned out well. In the morning headed down the trail towards Enos Lake and Pacific Creek. Here the trail from Clear Lake goes down an open slop to the meadows along the headwaters of Box Creek, then on thru more meadows to Enos Creek and Lake. Have been here often. As I was heading down the slope, I was just going along enjoying the scenery and not making much noise as usual. In my hiking don't make much noise for want to see the wildlife, the birds, and everything. Also as usual was all by my lonesome on this hiking trek. As I was coming down the slope, I rounded a bend in the trail and here right above on the open slope was a Sow Grizzly with 3 newborn cubs of the year. The Sow Grizzly with her cubs were only like 50 freaking feet above me. This encounter was the type of encounter that no one wishes for. Again here was the Sow Grizzly with her two cubs only like maybe 50 feet away! I immediately pulled out my Bear Spray and faced the Sow Grizzly. The Sow Grizzly appeared to be a small to medium sized bear. Right quickly the Sow Grizzly noticed me standing there. And the Sow moved to the right, to where the trail was and right where I had come, maybe like 50 to 75 feet away. Two of the Sow's cubs ran to the mother bear while one remained on the slope above. At this moment the Sow took several steps on the trail in my direction. I immediately let loose with the bear spray towards the Sow. After this the Sow immediately turned and with two of the cubs vanished around the bend in the trail and out of site. The other remaining cub up on the nearby hillside started to bawl and bawl, I soooo quickly turned and got out of the area in one piece. Later after hiking about a half of a mile down the trail, I realized that I had left my hiking stick at the site of the encounter. This hiking stick is special to myself with having this since a fall hike in the Escalante River drainage in 1986. I dropped my pack and proceeded back with great caution. I got my hiking stick and the grizzlies now were all long gone to my relief. But I will never forget how when coming around that bend in the trail and seeing that Sow with her three cubs right above me on the slope. Just another time thought that this might be all she wrote for my life. A photo of the area up upper Box Creek is below.

Now to add another Grizzly Bear Encounter for everyone. This also was in the near area at the very outlet of Clear Lake. This happened back in the early morning of June 21, 1986 which incidentally was the day of the summer solstice. Now back in the 80s, it seemed it wasn't quite as common to come across a Grizzly in the Greater Yellowstone Country. On the afternoon of the 20th, had hiked up here to Clear Lake from the North Buffalo Fork meadows below. I had set up my camp near the outlet and some trees in the area. This late afternoon as I dayhiked around the area, saw abundant signs that a Grizzly Sow with at least one or two cubs was in the immediate area but this afternoon did not see any bears. Also on this trek, was hiking all by my lonesome. I slept well that night. In the morning of June 21st, after waking up, went down nearby to the outlet of the lake and sat here for a period of time just enjoying the lake. After like maybe 15 or so minutes, got up to go back to camp. Immediately saw on the other side of the outlet of the lake, a small Grizzly Sow with three newborn cubs of the year. The Grizzly Sow noticed me at about the same time. Immediately the Sow ran down to the shoreline of the other side of the outlet being about 25 feet or so away from myself. Here only the water of the outlet separated the Sow Grizzly and myself. I kept my eyes on the Sow the entire time. Here on the other side of the outlet, the Sow just glared at me and growled like only a Grizzly Bear can. And after several minutes us looking at each other, the Sow turned went back to her cubs and vanished out of site to my much relief. Since have been often here at Clear Lake with it being one of my most favorite spots in this wilderness , and will never forget this day in 1986.

Also now since both of these encounters was with a small to maybe medium sized Sow Grizzly with three cubs, do not think they were the same bear thru the years. The reason is that is was like 25 years between these two encounters but in the same area. There is always bears it seems up near Clear Lake, Enos Lake, and the area.

Looking down thru the meadows of Upper Box Creek near where that one encounter happened, can see the meadowed slope in the distance in the photo with being later that same day.



Wishing Everyone the Best!
 
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