January 5, 2010

The Bear of the Blue Mountains

While exploring the far southeast corner of Washington, near the Grande Ronde Canyon in Asotin County, I had my now infamous encounter with the largest black bear I have ever seen.

To recap, we arrived to Field Spring State Park late in the afternoon. After we put Hilina down to sleep at 7pm, Linda and Maile decided to take the short 1.5 mile hike to the top of the ridge to see the beautiful view across the Grande Ronde Canyon.

Upon their return around 8pm, I decided I would go. Since the hike was short and dusk was coming, I decided to do what no one should ever do. I took off alone, with no backpack, no hiking sticks, basically defenseless.

I cruised up the track as quickly as I could. But, as I approached the top of the ridge, I heard a rustling in the woods. At first I thought it was just a deer, so I continued. But, then here came a 4 foot tall (at the shoulders), 400 pound black bear (which was actually cinnamon-brown in color).

It charged at me, huffing and puffing along, drool streaming from its mouth. My first thought was this can not be happening. I thought for a split second about running, but realized that would trigger a chase instinct in the bear, so I stood my ground.

I immediately raised my arms and started yelling at the bear. It stopped in its tracks about 5 feet away. I slowly took one step back and it took one step forward. And there we stood for what seemed like an eternity, although it was probably only a few seconds.

Every time it made a slight movement toward me I yelled at it and it stopped. Finally, I began to slowly walk backwards down the trail with my arms waving and yelling for it to stay there. Once I got a couple hundred feet from it, I snapped this shot of it.

I did everything I was told never to do and I almost paid the price. But, it certainly makes for a good story now!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't believe this post has no comments! Pretty cool and scary story. I was looking for info on this park and found this blog. A bear encounter is very serious. Thanks for sharing.