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I'll call this story MOMMA BEAR. :ph34r: I've had dozens of bear encounters, but nothing quite like this:




Let me set the stage. I was hiking alone as I almost always do. It was the summer of '92 in the High Sierra. I had been hiking around and camping in the John Muir and Ansel Adams wilderness areas for 23 days. (Ah, I was young and stupid.) There was a ring around the sun when you looked at it and it had been getting progressively colder at night. It was going to snow and SOON. I was 9 miles from my car ATCF (as the crow flies) and I had no intention of camping in a late summer snow. Those can be pretty bad up there.



I was hiking just off the JMT/PCT (John Muir Trail/Pacific Crest Trail) coming out of Fish Valley and I knew I had at least 11 trail miles (mostly UPhill) to get out. My pack was feather light, because all I had left in it was my minimal gear, some ritz crackers, 1 package of M&Ms, and a dehydrated western omlette I had been packing around for at least 4 years and couldn't bring myself to eat. (The time I had to eat that omlette is a whole other story.)



One other important detail. I had run out of sportsman's soap about 8 days previously and I had covered over 70 miles of ground in that time. Uhhhh, I was quite RIPE.



Soooo, about 2 miles from the Rainbow Falls/Devil's Postpile trail, I see something brown rolling dead logs about 200 yards away. COOOL it's a friggin' HUGE California Brownie. 800+ pounds if it was an ounce. WOW!



The logs she was rolling and tearing into were at least three feet through the center and she was hefting them like they were Lincoln Logs. She was really into it with her back turned to me and I was down wind. I closed the distance to 100 yards to get some better pictures.



About the time I got 100 yards closer, I noticed something smaller that had been obscurred by the big logs. A couple somethings in fact. I had just closed in on a MOMMA BEAR!!!! YIPE! :P She was currently on the other side of a huge downed tree and I could barely see her. WHEW! I'm thinkin' I'll just stay rooted to this spot until she moves a safer distance away along the path she was on.



NO SUCH LUCK! She was ambling closer to the trail I needed to pass on and no sooner did I have that thought than the wind shifted. Momma Bear's head shot up so fast that I think a little pee came out in my shorts. She made a grunt I'll never forget and her 2 cubs shot up the nearest ponderosa pine. The look on her face seemed to say, "WHAT STINKS?"






But no. She sat at the base of that tree and let me pass slowly and cautiously about 50 to 75 yards away from her and her cubs. As soon as I was outta her sight I ran about a half mile to put in some distance.



I'll hafta scan the pics and post them whenever I get the chance. It was an encounter I'll never forget and I have some pretty good pictures to prove it.



When I got to my car the first flakes were falling. It wasn't even mid August. It snowed about 8 inches that night in town and over a foot in the backcountry above 8,000 feet. I was snug in a warm bed at my Sister's house in Mammoth.



My brother-in-law didn't believe how close she let me pass until he saw the pictures. Then he told me I was lucky to be alive. Don't I know it.

Edited by Snoogans
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completely scammed from Patrick F. McManus (my favorite author - outdoor humor)


A Fine and Pleasant Misery


MODERN TECHNOLOGY has taken most of the misery out of the outdoors. Camping is now aluminum-covered, propane-heated, foam-padded, air-conditioned, bug-proofed, flip-topped, disposable, and transistorized. Hardship on a modern camping trip is blowing a fuse on your electric underwear, or having the battery peter out on your Porta-Shaver. A major catastrophe is spending your last coin on a recorded Nature Talk and then discovering the camp Comfort & Sanitation Center (featuring forest green tile floors and hot showers) has pay toilets.


There are many people around nowadays who seem to appreciate the fact that a family can go on an outing without being out. But I am not one of them. Personally, I miss the old-fashioned misery of old fashioned camping.


Young people just now starting out in camping probably have no idea that it wasn't but a couple of decades ago that people went camping expecting to be miserable. Half the fun of camping in those days was looking forward to getting back home. When you did in get back home you prolonged the enjoyment of your trip by telling all your friends how miserable you had been. The more you talked about the miseries of life in the woods, the more you wanted to get back out there and start suffering again. Camping was a fine and pleasant misery.


A source of much misery in old-fashioned camping was the campfire, a primitive contrivance since replaced by gas stoves and propane heaters. It is a well known fact that your run-of-the-mill imbecile can casually flick a soggy cigar butt out of a car window and burn down half a national forest. The campfire, on the other hand, was a perverse thing that you could never get started when you needed it most. If you had just fallen in an icy stream or were hopping around barefooted on frosted ground (uncommon now but routine then), you could not ignite the average campfire with a bushel of dry tinder and a blowtorch.


The campfire was of two basic kinds: the Smudge and the Inferno. The Smudge was what you used when you were desperately in need of heat. By hovering over the Smudge the camper could usually manage to thaw the ice from his hands before being kippered to death. Even if the Smudge did burst into a decent blaze, there was no such thing as warming up gradually. One moment the ice on your pants would show slight signs of melting and the next the hair on your legs was going up in smoke. Many's the time I've seen a blue and shivering man hunched over a crackling at blaze suddenly eject from his boots and pants with a loud yell and go bounding about in the snow, the front half of him the color of boiled lobster, the back half still blue.


The Inferno was what you always used for cooking. Experts on camp cooking claimed you were posed to cook over something called "a bed of glowing coals." But what everyone cooked over was the Inferno. The "bed of glowing coals" was a fiction concocted by experts on camp cooking. Nevertheless the camp cook was frequently pictured, by artists who should have known better, as a tranquil man hunkered down by a bed of glowing coals, turning plump trout in the frying pan with the blade of his hunting knife. In reality the camp cook was a wildly distraught individual who charged through waves of heat and speared savagely with a long sharp stick at a burning hunk of meat he had tossed on the grill from a distance of twenty feet. The rollicking old fireside songs originated in the efforts of other campers to drown out the language of the cook and prevent it from reaching the ears of little children. Meat roasted over a campfire was either raw or extra well done, but the cook usually came out medium rare.


The smoke from the campfire always blew directly in the eyes of the campers, regardless of wind direction. No one minded much, since it prevented you from seeing what you were eating. If a bite of food showed no signs of struggle, you considered this a reasonable indication that it came from the cook pot and was not something just passing through.

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500thcache. Well this ended up being quite an epic for us. We had emailed the owner to ask if it was still OK and despite being poorly he made a big effort and checked that all the stages were still in place. He also drew up a list of other caches and went out and did some maintenance on those as well. Well as it turned out we only did the one as a combination of tiredness and faulty fingers led us on a very long tour of the local area including high points, woods and tree lined walks. Parked up at the recommended spot and the foot path was soon spotted and we were off after the first troll. Just in case we could not find any Krystal, Kelly and Aaron had promised to be as troll like as possible which is not that hard. After walking past the shops we saw the bridle way stretching away right on the GPS arrow into the distance. The sun was beating down and we were glad we had brought drinks with us. The oilseed rape had lost most of its yellow sheen but it does make you wonder where does all that oil go? Got to the first trip trap trop and Mark was dispatched through the nettles to get clue number one a nice easy start we thought. Lynn keyed in the co ords and we set off again now at this point as we did not have an OS map of the area we guessed which way to go to then guessed again and decided to follow the edge of the river down stream along other side of the rape plants. Eventually our luck ran out and we had to cross a field of cows back to the bridle way we had been on earlier (the owner had a chat with us about private land and that cows are dangerous bring on the right to roam please)

It was then into the village and onward to the second troll, the country side was brilliant today with hot sun and crystal clear views everywhere with walks on good paths (when we found em). We came down past the church yard which was the long way round but we were enjoying the walk. The kids played on and in the bridge while we searched until in the end we gave in and phoned the cache owner who soon put us on the right track and the troll was found it was then off to the final geo cache (so we thought) along well laid out foot paths up past the church and onwards up Croft hill. Past the blasting signs, and then into the croft hill reserve area and up to the top of the hill. Not for one minute did we think it strange that no bridges or streams were visible at all. Eventually Mark found not one but two bird boxes but no geo cache. A quick call (yes again!) and Robert was talking about streams and bridges uh oh what had gone wrong

The random keying fingers had put a digit in wrong putting us 0.5 miles from the geo cache. Fortunately we need the walking practice on the hills for our holiday on the welsh coast in June and the two weeks in Scotland later this year (that’s our reason and we are NOT going to change it)

So it was back down the hill following the now checked 4 times over co ordinates. We had a stop as it was 4 hours after we started to eat the only food we had packed chocolate!

As we came down a bridle way was spotted over the road and it was in the right direction yippee, but once again as we entered the field we spied one of the yellow foot path markers and walked towards it unfortunately we did not see the other route which is down to the bottom of this field and round the corner to the cache. Our route led to a maze of electric fences and horses after safely negotiating these it was out onto the road and down another bridleway and across a field with no visible exits, we skirted along the edge of this field to finding a well hidden bridge. The next field had one exit and it was in the right direction so off we set. The final field had yellow posts visible in the corner and as we approached we saw the bird box and the cache was soon in hand. We swapped stuff and left coin before setting off the way we should have come earlier and back to the car for some food and a well earned rest. Really nice to meet you at the end and TFTC

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Mine always climax with a 'near death experience' (hey now, don't go there) which usually involves hypothermia. I spend the other half of the hike trying trying to save my bacon, hoping that someone will responsibly take care of my children after I'm gone, feeling a bit panicky and like I'm going to vomit.


It always turns out ok in the end.


And I never write about them.

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Seeing wild animals, no big deal its all part of the joys of backcountry but what is neat is when you start some small talk with some hikers and the end is a neat story.


Back in '03 while I was doing a patrol for the USFS on the North Fork Trail I met a father and his son who were returning from a short backpacking trip. I saw they were carrying a GPS so I asked them if they ever heard of a game called Geocaching. And there reply was yes we have and want to look for some.


They mentioned this cacher known as Tahosa who has them up the hills and far back in and they would like to look for them sometime. Now the father was in his late 30's and said that he thought he better get in better shape before he went looking for any of those caches. His son being a typical son, said "Dad you can do it."


Well I said I do some caching now and then. Their reply was cool and asked me if I ever looked for any caches hidden by Tahosa. I said yes I have and in fact I have found all of his. The kids eyes bugged out of his head, and his father said "Sir with all due respect, how did you manage to find all those caches hidden by someone who must be in their 20's".


My reply was simple, I am Tahosa. And I was in my 20's back in the late 60's.

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