As I mentioned in my post yesterday, during a yoga retreat I stayed overnight in a small, wooden cabin located in the pines on a very steep slope up the White Mountain of southern California. There are black bears in those woods, weighing up to 600 pounds, and we had been admonished to "watch out" for them. I felt that warning was insufficient so after my day of yoga classes, when other yoga practitioners took an evening stroll to meditate in the woods, I went directly to my cabin and did not emerge from it until time for the next day of classes in the morning. Ah, but naturally the bear came to me!
Late in the evening, as I sat digitally processing the photographs that I had taken for the yoga instructors that day, a heavy, panting bear put the hair up on the back of my neck by emerging from the pines directly above my cabin and running pell-mell downhill past my cabin, so closely that I wondered if I smelled its rank fur, its animal breath. It crashed down the mountain so loudly that I worried for its safety. I worried irrationally that its momentum might fling it through the cabin wall and up against me. Stones skittered and rolled, clanked and clattered, scooped from its paws and added to the cacophony which was the bear's descent. As it ran and fell down the mountain, it grunted and complained from deep in its chest as bears do. Bears must have very intense emotional lives to be so vocal about their troubles. I do not know what caused that bear to stumble and then careen down the mountain, but it complained bitterly about it.
I am not courageous around apex predators, bravado does not seem reasonable to me, and my only thought in the three seconds as the bear passed by was, "Oh, I hope it keeps going and does not come back." It never occurred to me to get a spontaneous "nature shot" of it out of the window, in fact I fiercely checked my cabin windows and door to make sure all was as tightly closed as possible. The bear sounded massive, and it probably was.
This unexpected experience with a live bear occurred in 2001, a decade later I had recovered sufficiently to take this entertaining picture with a safer bear.
Caption: Mounted Bear and Annmarie Throckmorton
Bass Pro Shops display 2014