...and Bears! Oh My!.29 Jun 2005
Looking to get out of the ‘burbs for a day, we headed out to western Virginia, to drive Skyline Drive. It was a very hot day in DC, close to 95 degrees but as we headed west, the thermometer dropped into the low 80’s making for a perfect afternoon. I’ve wanted to head out to the Shenandoahs since we moved here, so I was really looking forward to the trip.
It was well worth the hour plus drive. The views were spectacular even though the heat made it a little hazy. I can only imagine what the views must be like on a clear day. And we’ll definitely be heading back come the fall to see the foliage.
We planned on taking a hike about halfway down the drive and stopped at Stone Man to take the 1.5 mile trail to a supposedly great view. Well, we never made it all the way to the top of the trail as we encountered a black bear on the trail.
In all my years as a boy scout camping and backpacking, I’ve never seen a bear in the wild. In New Mexico, we swore we heard one rumaging through our food, but none of us dared leave the tent to take a look. In the Canadian Rockies, my brother and I wore “bear bells” to keep them at bay. That did the trick as we had a bigger problem with bugs than bears. Or maybe it was the cheese flavored hot dogs that didn’t interest them.
Throughout the hike we heard rumblings here and there, but it was mostly birds and chipmunks. When we heard rustling in the woods, we’d stop and look around. And then I looked up to see a mid-sized black bear about 20 feet up the trail, looking back at me. I stopped and told Christine to stop too. We stood there, frozen as the bear looked at us briefly as he moved off of the trail and back into the woods. We didn’t see him again.
Needless to say, that was the end of the hike. We scampered down the trail to the parking lot and got in the car and drove away.