Other humans were rarely encountered on the trails, but we were discovering that we weren't alone. The inhabitants of the forest were all around us and on the move.
As I dawdled behind him on a shady stretch, Ted spotted movement beside him and to his right. He scrambled backwards, shouting, "A BEAR! A BEAR!"
|Toby sits quietly like this to observe the bears.|
Sure enough, a young bear was contentedly munching the ripening raspberries. I fumbled for my camera, all thumbs with excitement.
He ambled up onto the trail just a few yards from us. When he glanced our way the three of us stared back, awestruck. Unhurried and not too interested, the little bear walked down the trail away from us.
|Bears walk surprisingly quietly through the forest.|
He mosied up the hill, pausing every few steps to gently pluck more berries.
A few hours later a much larger mother bear with a little cub emerged from behind a log about 30 feet in front of us. We froze. She gave us two hard, long stares. Finally she crossed the trail and climbed the ridge with the cub following. They were enjoying the raspberries too. We watched the little family until they were out of sight but didn't try to get closer for a photo.
|Ripening raspberries along the trail make for close encounters with bears.|
For the rest of the hike I expected to see a bear around every curve! It was an amazing experience to see these healthy animals foraging in the wild.
Next post: Non-mammalian fellow travelers on the trail.