(originally posted August 18, 2019)
I recently hiked seven miles at the Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area, near Jamestown, Tennessee – more about that in the days ahead. This post recaps two instances along the trail in which I encountered bears.
Highlights: this park offers scenic overlooks of the canyon, substantial sandstone cliffs, interesting geological structures, and a canopied forest trail. Oh, and wildlife.
🐻 Bear No. 1
Have you ever had the feeling that you’re being watched? Well, that’s exactly how I felt as I approached a small stream at the base of the canyon. Nearly two miles into the wilderness, I had the sense that something was out there, that I wasn’t alone, and so I stopped to surveil my surroundings, keeping still to remain as quiet as possible. However, I didn’t see or hear anything.
The trail followed the stream, slowing gaining elevation with distance. I was soon at a point approx. 15-feet above the stream, when it happened: an adult male black bear probably twice my size (235 lbs.) had snuck up on me and was within 30-feet! This was likely the source of my concern, earlier, now in potentially dangerous proximity.
I stopped moving and wondered what was next – should I turn back in the direction from whence I came, attempt to climb a tree (which was problematic, as these trees were tall and without low branches), remove and unzip my backpack to acquire a knife, or make lots of noise (I can whistle really loud!)?
I opted to remain still, concluding that the bear was aware of my presence and deemed that I wasn’t a threat – an easy posture to assume, given its girth. As I watched, it became clear that the bear was undertaking his daily scavenging for a meal routine, shifting rocks in the stream to dislodge potential sources of food. This was in fact what first alerted me to the bear…the sound of rocks being moved.
Regaining my composure, I shot this video as I followed the bear from along the trail, keeping back a safe distance while attempting to remain less conspicuous behind trees…
Note: the large rock being easily moved by the bear in this video was probably in excess of 100 lbs..
Also read: Part Two – Another Black Bear Video
🐻 Bear No. 2
I saw another bear not long after this encounter, along the trail at a higher elevation on a ridge. This bear was either a female or adolescent, which I estimated at 300 lbs. or less. As I was paying close attention to the root-covered ground while hiking, I happened to glance ahead and see a bear on the trail looking directly at me.
The bear was probably 60-feet in front of me, and, when we made eye contact, took off like a bat out of hell racing downhill through the forest on an estimated 30-degree slope. I was truly amazed (and, quite pleased) at how fast this bear bounded down the hill.
See more information & photographs about my hike at Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area.