RE: Bearing all . . . my sister tells me about meeting up with a black bear in Alaska
The other day I was talking with my sister who lives in Portage, Alaska . . . for any die-hard Amazing Race fans this is very close to Girdwood where the last Amazing Race finish line was located.
In any case she was telling me about a recent hiking/camping trip that she went on where she met up with a black bear . . . and unlike every other bear encounter this was one of the scariest moments for her. Thought I would share her story.
Julie said she began her trip by catching a water taxi to this state park. The water taxi dropped her off on the beach and she began hiking to the campsite. That day she hiked to the nearby glacier (she told me the name of the sound, park and glacier . . . but to be honest I forget their names.)
The next morning she was breaking camp in preparation for the hike out to the beach to meet up with the water taxi when she spotted a bear moving towards her from about a quarter mile or so away. This wasn't the first time my sister has spotted Alaskan wildlife (she was once charged by a moose) and in fact this was her fourth bear encounter.
Like every other time she began yelling at the bear and flapping her arms in an attempt to scare the bear and let the bear know he/she was heading towards a person. However, unlike every other bear encounter this one kept heading right towards her instead of skeddaling into the woods.
Julie cranked up her anti-bear scare tactics even more by flapping her tent around for the added noise and visual effect . . . no good. The bear kept coming.
At this point the bear was much closer so Julie took a few rocks and threw them in the general direction to the side of the bear . . . once again . . . nothing happened. The bear continued to slowly move towards her.
Finally, Julie said the bear came within 25 feet or so. Armed with her bear pepper spray . . . with a maximum range of 5 feet on a non-windy day . . . Julie slowly moved past the bear as she had to go right by the bear as she had water on one side of her and large rock faces to her rear and other side. Julie said she kept one eye on the bear who made no threatening moves . . . but just kept standing there. She said it was so close she could smell the stink of the bear.
Eventually Julie returned to the beach . . . two hours before the water taxi was scheduled to return. She said as it was the taxi came two hours later and for those four hours she said every noise she heard on the beach convinced her that a bear was about ready to pounce on her.
It was on Monday while talking with a doc who routinely flies in the area that she learned that this state park is full of bears. She also learned a possible reason for the atypical bear behavior. She and the doc theorized that the bear might have learned that this camping spot often contains some easy meals when campers have failed to stow their food in a bear-proof manner . . . or the bear could have learned to get a free, easy meal from campers by approaching them in the same manner as some campers might be tempted to throw some food at the bear to "distract" it as they scamper to safety.
In any case, my sister says she will not be going back to this campsite anytime soon.
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear."
"Death is only one of many ways to die."