(“When I arrived Sunday evening and checked into my site, the rangers told me to be extra careful, as a bear got up on the side of the Girl Scouts’ tent at 3 a.m. that morning, and proceeded to try and get into their car (oh, and that it was yards from where my tent was to be). OK, I do know better than to leaves Cheetos on the ground, let alone by my tent, but I was not super reassured. I eventually slept, but awoke from multiple dreams that were not so calming, and early in the morning, heard a loud brushing against my tent, which sent me into a straight-up position in about .5 seconds. Nothing followed, and the wind was blowing very loudly, so I could not hear anything on the ground. When I awoke, I left to hike, and upon return, was told by my new neighbors that the rangers set up a live trap for the bear, who was heard brushing against tents early this morning— and that the trap was just catty-corner behind my tent. Hmmm... not super excited for round two, and underneath that, sad that the bears are so acclimated to humans being careless, putting people at risk, and especially endangering the lives of the bears, who are at our mercy.
Much to my dismay, I had a return visit again the next night, in a dead silence that followed intense storms and wind. This time, it pushed against the side of my tent, and then brushed slowly along the length, and paced around for 50 minutes, chomping on what I found out later was acorns from the generously-producing tree outside my tent. Ugh. I sat with my fear the whole time, bear spray in one hand, air horn in the other, not wanting to alarm the elderly naighbors that had come in that night. Eventually, the footsteps left, and relief washed over me. I came to my senses on the hike that day, and realized I was not up for a third-time’s-the-charm, and booked a room at the Tally Ho Inn in the closest town. Such relief in shelter, and in sleep that felt safe. (Part II to follow in next post, as this one’s too long! BTW, that’s my orange tent in the circle, in close proximity to said bear, surrounded by waves of protective energy— because a magical force field comes in handy at times, even if only in your mind!).
The following day as I walked in a downpour, a group of hikers ahead of me but out of sight, I had the feeling I should turn around, but kept walking for a few minutes, not feeling at all ready to hit a halfway point, but then a very clear voice in my head told me to turn around NOW, and as I did, two cubs crossed the path that I had just walked through. My humming turned to loud singing, and I waited to make sure a mama was not following the cubs... with shaky legs and a few shallow breaths, I proceeded to walk down through that same path— bear spray in hand, singing loudly and with a bit of stacatto, scanning for any sign of movement in the close rhododendron that lined the trail. Never have I been so relieved to reach a parking lot at the end of a trail! I certainly experienced my fill of bear energy this trip, and will make sure I am in sight of at least one hiker the next time. Lesson learned, and happy to be home safely...”)