Narrowback ~ Too Many Bears

I took the day off from work last Friday, I call it ‘taking a nice day’ instead of a sick day, because its nice out! I took Simon and Daisy and we went and did our favorite loop from Bear Trap Farm Road.

It was a nice ride, good weather, a little drizzle and not very hot for July.

They have a new sign up at the fire road entrance! And apparently the area is called Narrowback.

We rode in along the FR, and turned up our usual trail that happens to be a very old fire road that is no longer is use. It ends at a trail that continues very steeply up the mountain to the ridge top.

catching his breath

We stopped at the top for Simon to catch his breath and I tied a bright pink ribbon around the tree to help make it stand out for those coming from the other direction.

After Simon caught his breath we continued along the ridge top trail. The recent storms had downed a lot of branches and trees, and we had to work around quite a few. Some smaller stuff had obviously already been cleared. We passed a lot of fresh bear scratching on trees, as well as some not so fresh. And about half way along the trail we had our first bear encounter.

a tree fallen on the trail

Bear encounter #1: Daisy was ahead of me, not far, but just over a slight hill in the trail, so she was out of sight. I heard a “aaahhhhargh!” and I thought there must be someone coming the other way that she either spooked, or that doesn’t want her near them. Which I thought was a bit odd because there are very rarely other people in this area and because Daisy usually comes right back if there is someone nearby. But I called her back and she was with me again in moments. No one was there when we got over the rise a moment later, and I really didn’t think much of it.A bit later, we popped back out on the fire road, and went up it to the tower and took a quick break at the picnic table there. The peanut butter container/note jar was still there, and I took a few moments to check it out again. I found my previous note from April and read the pages filled out since then before adding a new entry myself.

After our break we followed the FR to the trail head back down, which I marked with a pink tagging ribbon, to help it stand out some since the trail head sign is missing. And then we headed on down. About half way down Simon stopped and looked off to his right, and Daisy mimicked his behavior.

Bear enounter #2: So I looked to the right and there was a bear, just a few yards away, with his head down, snuffing around. We all stood there for a few moments, looking at each other, and then Daisy moved forward a few steps towards the bear. Which is when the bear decided it was time to head on out of the area. I told Daisy to stay, which she did, and we watched the bear until he was out of sight.

We reached the end of the trail, and headed back along the fire road toward the trailer. We passed some pretty flowers, and some berries, yum, and then got into a nice rolling gallop.

Bear encounter #3: We were at a full out gallop (which mind you, Simon can really move out when he wants to) and it must have sounded like the Calvary was coming. We rounded a rise in the road and took a tight bend and there was a bear and her two cubs on the right hand side of the fire road.

Before I could make any decisions we were abreast of her, and she took off running in the same direction as us, right next to us. I pulled up quickly, and so did the bears. Then momma, took back off, shooting in front of us and across the FR and off into the woods below and to the left of us.

Unfortunately her cubs remained just a few feet away on our right, sitting on the side of the FR. Daisy shot off after momma bear, and I made eye contact with one of the cubs, who was close to eye level, sitting on the shoulder of the fire road where the ground was banked up. I asked Simon to trot, and the cubs followed suit. So I pulled back up, which they also did. I reminded me of when you are walking towards a person and you both move to the side to avoid collision but you both step the same way, keeping you in line with each other.

Before I could decide to move forward, retreat or stay put I heard “ARRRRhhhhgh” from the woods, well in front and to the left of us. And I truly thought, that there must be a person up ahead on the FR warding the bear and or Daisy off. Which snapped me to remembering to call for Daisy to come back! Which I did.

Any thought of the noise being made by a human was extinguished when the bear cubs started to “arrrh” back in reply and began a discussion of AGHS back and forth with their momma.

Daisy appeared at my side, and after a few more moments I asked Simon to move on again, and this time the cubs stayed put, as we nervously continued to trot out. Luckily momma wasn’t too upset and did not intersect our path again and we made it back to the trailer safe and sound.

I would like to point out that Simon was a dream pony. Even with bears yelling back and forth over him, with the cubs being mere feet away, and with me being rather nervous and tense, he listened like a champ. He stood and he moved on, and he pulled back up when asked, without a moment’s hesitation.

And Daisy, who is all about hunting, returned and stayed when she was told, without me having to ask more than once.

I also now realize that bears sound a lot like angry people.

This summer just about everyone I know that goes into the woods for hiking, biking or riding has been having bear encounters. And more often than not, they are having multiple bear encounters. I wonder if there is a simple over population, or if it’s the intensity of the dryness that is causing the bears to be more present? Being someone who makes many trips into these forests, I have only had one bear encounter over the years before this particular ride. And three in one day seems like a lot.

And for those who have asked, I actually had my camera in my right hand during the third bear encounter. And the bears, cubs in particular, were plenty close enough to get a good picture without having to zoom in at all. But getting a photo was one of the last things on my mind at the time.

Almost back to the trailer.

My entry from April into the trail log/peanut butter jar

A funny entry someone else put in the trail log/peanut butter jar



Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: