Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bearable Hiking

Bearable Hiking

I've been hiking in Harriman State Park and adjacent Bear Mt. State Park regularly since 1996, until my transfer to the cornfields of Illinois this past summer. 3 days of Salesian activities at the Marian Shrine have brought me back for a long weekend, and today I took advantage of a break to make a dash into Harriman--only an hour's jaunt up the Suffern-Bear Mt. Trail from Gate Hill Rd. to the abandoned fire tower, and back.

And I had a first-time experience.

Until now, my black bear sightings had been confined to the zoo at Bear Mt.
and one bear dashing across Seven Lakes Drive in August 2008 as I was driving up the parkway.

This afternoon, maybe 10 minutes into my hike, still short of the ruins of Orak, I saw in the brush alongside the trail what I thought was a large, dark-haired dog off its leash.  I thought it unusual that I didn't hear his master or mistress coming down the trail, or that the "dog" didn't hear me approaching.  I guess I was about 40 feet away when I whistled to get its attention.  As it turned around, 2 more, smaller heads popped up from the brush.  These weren't dogs!

I turned around quickly and walked quickly back up the trail about 15 feet before looking back.  I'd also been removing the lens cap from my camera, but when I turned around it was already too late to shoot.  Mama bear and her 2 cubs were scooting away into the woods.  While it was a little disappointing not to get a photo, it was a better thing that Mama ran off.

Then a hiker did come into view from the other direction, armed with a short, heavy tree limb and pointing silently toward where the bears had just gone.  He'd seen only 2 of them and was relieved that I'd spotted 3, meaning there wasn't an unaccounted-for cub somewhere nearby.  So he dropped his weapon onto the trail, and we went on our ways, he toward the parking lot and I toward Orak and the fire tower.

No more critters sighted bigger than chipmunks, except more day hikers.

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