A Beary Close Encounter

That day we made a new friend..

Throughout the summer, we had wished that we could see a wild bear on one of our hikes (from a safe distance, of course!) Even when we had hiked through Elfin Lakes, an area known for having lots of bear activity, we saw a lot berry tinged bear droppings on the trail, but not the perpetrators themselves! This changed after a hiking and camping trip in to Helm lake.

Hiking towards Helm lake, we decided to finally have lunch along the rocky shore of a small un-named lake along the way late in the afternoon. In the looming shadow of Black Tusk to our west, we unpacked our ingredients for a basic but delicious lunch – smoked cheddar cheese, salty capocollo and fresh sesame bagels. Breaking off pieces of the cheese with our bare hands and layering it between the meat and bagel, it was the sustenance needed for our flagging morale.

While we were still munching away (Andrew finishing his second bagel, me still on my first) we watched day hikers trudging back to the trail head on the east side of the lake. Since the meadow around the lake was open and very flat, we could see far into the distance with only mountains blocking our vision.

Glancing back towards Black Tusk in the opposite direction of the trail, something at the bottom of the mountain about 100 meters away caught my eye.

Was that a person? As the black figure lumbered towards us, I realised it had four limbs.

“Is that a…bear?” I asked Andrew.

He turned to followed the direction of my gaze.

“It is a bear!”

In that same moment, the bear lifted its head from the grass and looked at us.

Had it smelled our smoked cheese and cold meats? Was it going to walk over here and demand we share our lunch?

“We have to go – get your stuff, we need to leave now” Andrew spoke urgently in a low voice.

In that moment I felt a spike of fear. All summer we had wished to see a bear on a hiking trip. Finally we were seeing one. I wasn’t feeling much excitement – I mainly felt scared.

Andrew swifty stood up. The bear immediately ran away from us and out of sight in the direction we had came.

I let out a sigh of relief, “Is it gone?”

Andrew cautiously followed the general direction of the bear’s escape route to that the bear was not going to return. Reporting back moments later, Andrew said that the bear had headed for the mountains and was just a black speck in the distance.

Nonetheless, it was our signal to finish lunch and leave. That night I felt a but jumpy whenever I heard rustling in the bushes, but we never saw the bear again.

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